A blazer is required. Tie is optional.
But don’t be surprised if well-dressed men also take part in the “Fashion + Activism Walk” at Huntington Beach Pier on Saturday June 26th. They will add their voice to a growing movement to counter the prevailing stereotypes that confine black men and other men of color to images of danger and criminality.
Promoted by an Orange County lifestyle brand and community networking group called Classic Gentleman, the rally, from noon to 3 p.m., will also feature speakers including actors Melvin Jackson and Shawn McDonald, singer Brian McKnight Jr., Dr. Karamo Chilombo, a physician physician and singer also known as “Dr. Chill,” and Santa Ana City Councilor Johnathan Ryan Hernandez.
Classic Gentleman was started a few years ago by three Cal State Fullerton graduates. His website describes the role dress can play in expanding the narrative about men of color.
“By holding on to a higher level of fashion, our community strives to end the social ills of society by breaking stereotypes and uniting cultures through a common goal.”
The group also encourages citizen action on a daily basis. At least 40 participants are expected on Saturday, said Willie Holmes Jr., founder of Classic Gentleman and one of the organizers of the “Fashion + Activism” event.
“It’s more of a trendy protest,” Holmes wrote in an email about the planned rally on the steps of the pier.
Co-sponsors include two other Orange County-based groups, the OC Justice Initiative, which advocates for social justice, and Function Presents, a media and entertainment company.
The action in Huntington Beach, a city historically unwelcoming to blacks, will mimic the kind of fashion flash mobs that another organization, Black Menswear, recently brought to 10 cities, including Los Angeles. Flash mobs feature groups of well-dressed black men – in tailored jackets, suits, and sometimes waxed shoes and dapper hats. Black Menswear uses photo ops and social media to “improve the perception of black men and encourage positivity within our community,” according to its website at weareblackmenswear.com.
Holmes said of the local rally on Saturday: “It will be a flash mob for men, just like Black Menswear has done across the country.”