Ben Cleeton is a Syracuse documentary photographer who holds a degree in photojournalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. His photographs have appeared in The New York Times, These Streets Magazine V.06, and online in Black artist series: Joshua Rashaad McFadden in The Undefeated.

In his visual documentation of Syracuse that its Black residents have nicknamed “the town,” Cleeton says, “I aim to rewrite commonplace representations of underprivileged neighborhoods that focus on crime, poverty, and violence, thus failing to recognize the unquantifiable human dimensions of care and solidarity abundant in Syracuse. I wanted this project to capture the sacred everyday lives of people from The Town. Arguably, these vibrant pockets of community represent the invisible Syracuse not seen by outsiders. My art is nothing without them. I hope that these stories offer a counter-narrative to a one-dimensional portrayal of a once thriving city now on the margins.”

A series of 90-degree days spill into the comfort of night as the high temperatures bake the city of Syracuse. Carla and her son Jaxiel “Che Che” seek relief with an evening swim.

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Eric Persons is an independent consultant. He helped the Central Current, Inc. founders launch the nonprofit.

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