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Meet the Artist and the Alabamians Involved in the Black Farmers’ Settlement

Friday, April 7 at 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM


In conjunction with the presentation of Bernard Williams’ Black Tractor Project, 2020, in the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden, the MMFA is honored to bring together several voices that reveal what it means to be a black farmer in the South now and in the recent past.

On Friday, April 7, the Museum will host a discussion and reception in the Caddell Sculpture Garden that delves into the experiences of Black farming in Alabama and the effects of the Black Farmers’ Settlement. We invite the public to meet and hear from the artist Bernard Williams, scholar Elijah Gaddis, and two individuals intimately involved in the farming industry in Alabama.


Bernard Williams

Artist Bernard Williams is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He holds a BFA degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Northwestern University in Evanston. He also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, in 1987. Williams has taught art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1991. Williams is the grandson of former Alabama farmer Sellers Williams Sr.

Albert “Peter” Datcher

Albert “Peter” Datcher is a farmer and family historian in the Cresswell Community outside Harpersville, AL. There, his family has farmed the same land for almost 200 years. His collection of family records, letters, photographs, and other materials are held at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and are one of the most complete accounts of an African American farming family in Alabama.

Elijah Gaddis

Elijah Gaddis is an Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Auburn University. His research and teaching interests are in African American material culture and landscape in the American South. Dr. Gaddis’s first book Gruesome Looking Objects: A New History of Lynching and Everyday Things, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.

John Williams

John Williams was born in 1955 in Hope Hull, Alabama, and resides in Burkville, AL, a short distance from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Williams retired from the US Army Corps of Engineers in 2021 after 42 years of service in the natural resources area, operating as a Park Ranger. John is the son of Sellers Williams, who worked the land as a sharecropper in Hope Hull, AL, in the 1950s and Burkville, AL, until his death in 1973.

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