New sculpture at MMFA pays tribute to Black farmers

A new sculpture at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts depicts the struggle of Black farmers.
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:00 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:22 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new sculpture at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is now displayed at the Caddell Sculpture Garden.

Black Tractor Project, created by Bernard Williams of Chicago, depicts the struggles of farmers and the Black farmers’ settlement.

“Farming was about ownership and was about independence, and I think people are still looking for ways to live like that in this country,” Williams said.

Williams’ family is from Lowndes County, and most of them grew up learning how to work on a farm.

”It taught me a lot about hard work and how to work and have something for yourself,” said John Williams, Bernard’s uncle.

Black farmers were systemically deprived of loans, equipment and land, which made it harder for them to raise crops and livestock.

A 1999 class action lawsuit (Pigford v. Glickman) proved that the United States Department of Agriculture discriminated against Black farmers, forcing a $1.2 billion settlement.

“Often they were given get misinformation about how to get a loan or they were just ignored and left out of the process,” Williams said.

Despite Black farmers’ struggles today, Williams said his family hopes the artwork will inspire others in the Black community to take up farming as a means for independence and generational prosperity.

The sculpture will be on display at MMFA for a year, and Williams plans to take the sculpture across the country.

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