— -- A viral ad campaign is empowering young black kids one photo at a time. Photographer Eunique Jones Gibson is dressing up little kids as their heroes and role models for her photo campaign, "Because of Them We Can," to celebrate black history month.
The project, which has expanded from Facebook to billboards and video public service announcements, includes mini-me versions of historical figures like Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass and Desmond Tutu. But it also features present-day trailblazers like Lupita Nyong’o, Ava DuVernay and Jesse Williams.
"These kids are unquestionably adorable, but what's most important is its bigger message to children," Gibson told ABC News today. "We hope that these images inspire kids to see themselves in positions of greatness and helps them re-imagine their possibilities in a world that has historically marginalized their cultures."
The project was born in 2013 shortly before the one-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death, Gibson said.
"The anniversary had me thinking about my two little boys, and I was getting a little depressed and worried," Gibson said. "But then one day I saw one of my boys in the kitchen pretending to box, and I thought, wow, he looks a little like Muhammad Ali, so I snapped a picture and it got us talking about Ali and other great black figures."
Gibson then began taking pictures of other kids she knew who she thought resembled other remarkable heroes who paved and continue to pave the way for equality and greatness, she said. During the photoshoots, she'd have conversations with the kids who were curious about the people they were dressing up as, she added.
The photos were released one day every day for the month of February, she said, and they went viral.
Since then, Gibson's non-profit "Because of Them We Can" has grown from a photo a day on Facebook to a socially conscious media creation company. It has billboards of her photos up in Newark, N.J. and in Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem. Video PSAs are being featured on Nickelodeon. The project has even partnered with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to create curriculum for classrooms soon.
The empowerment campaign also did a similar photo series for women's history month in March last year, and plans to do it again next month in addition to releasing similar adverts for Hispanic heritage month and Asian American history month, Gibson said.
"We want to be inclusive of kids of all races and hues," Gibson said. "And just to be clear, we believe all these cultures' contributions should be celebrated every day of the year, not just for one month. But we certainly wouldn't want to miss the opportunity during these designated months when people's ears are more in tune to discover their stories."
"Because of Them We Can" also plans on bringing lesser-known pioneers and trailblazers to light in the near future, Gibson added.
"We want to boost kids' self-esteems so that we can get them wanting to learn more about the greatness they come from and can be," Gibson said