“It was a lot of energy and a lot of positivity. It was amazing, man,” says One City Early Learning Centers CEO Kaleem Caire of the first annual Madison’s Premiere Black Male Photo Shoot. “Seeing all those guys lined up out there networking, meeting each other, and connecting across demographics … that was inspiring. We had such an amazing cross-section of Madison. It was powerful.”
Madison’s Premiere Black Male Photo Shoot took place at the Wisconsin State Capitol yesterday and was called “Real Men of Madison: We Do Everything.” It was hosted by One City Early Learning Centers in partnership with Justice Productions and the organizers were specifically looking for men who work in a variety of industries and have a variety of interests to participate in this shoot.
It was a great networking event for men Caire says he hasn’t seen for months or years. “Some of these men I hadn’t seen in decades!” Caire exclaimed.
Caire’s 21-year-old son, Sekani Caire, was the project manager for the event. “With Sekani taking on that responsibility, it allowed me to float around and talk to guys,” Caire says.
Marcus Miles of Marcus Miles Photography was in charge of getting everybody’s picture taken including separate images of each man at the Capitol and then group shots on the Capitol steps. “Marcus worked his tail off. He was on it. That’s a lot of photos to take,” Caire says. “And [local videographer] Johnny [Justice] was doing his thing, filming the whole thing and interviewing the men.”
Caire is trying to start a movement around pre-school education with his One City Early Learning Center and there are three things that he hoped that the photo shoot accomplished, the first of those was to give some attention to One City. “We’re really trying to shine a spotlight on our ‘Ready by 5’ campaign – getting kids ready for kindergarten,” he says. “We have a lot of fundraising to do around that.”
One City Early Learning Center, located on Madison’s south side next door to the Boys and Girls Club, has a mission to prepare young children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life and ensure they enter grade school reading-ready.
“The second part of what we were trying to do at the photo shoot was to promote pre-school education for all of our children,” Caire says. “We think it’s the biggest joke in America that we make kids go to school for a fee at the most critical time of their life, birth to 5 years old, and then it’s free after that. Some kids get a paid-for head start and others don’t at the most critical point in their lives. It’s a big reason why so many of our people are struggling.”
Thirdly, it was important for Caire to kick off that campaign with the very group that people often say are not involved in their kids’ lives — black men. “There are a lot of brothers involved in their children’s lives and people paint such a broad brush with us,” Caire says. “So that was the third thing with us: Really promoting black men. The theme was “Real Men of Madison” because we are the real men of Madison. We do everything. We’re sweeping your streets, we have executive roles at the university. Every job that we hold is valuable.”
Photos from the Madison’s Premiere Black Male Photo Shoot will be used for a fundraising calendar (due out for Christmas season) along with posters and possibly even a book.
In the meantime, Caire is planning more photo shoots – for women, for real leaders of Madison – and basking in the brotherhood of the first annual Madison’s Premiere Black Male Photo Shoot.
“The guys got it. They understood the message. They understood why we were out there. It just felt good. It just really clicked,” Caire says. “And the kids get to see these men doing their thing in our community. It sets the tone for what they can become.”