Black Memorabilia

Guest Curator African-American memorabilia

Scott Williams and his collection

A Father’s Legacy

If you ask Scott Williams how the pieces in his collection make him feel, he’ll say, “Heavy” – heavy for what they represent – the suppression of black people in America.  He is not uncomfortable with the imagery of African Americans with bulging eyes and big lips. They tell a story of how his race has been depicted and, according to Scott, “It’s important not to forget that.”

Scott’s father, Harvey Lee Williams, was the reason he began collecting African-American memorabilia.  Williams Sr. grew up in Mississippi and worked as a sharecropper. He picked cotton. In notes he wrote to his children later in life he said, “Being a negro in the south during those days were very hard and fearful for survival.” The time would have been the 1930s and 1940s.

The pieces in Scott’s collection have helped him learn and understand the attitudes his father faced growing up in the South. But his collection also contains uplifting and positive depictions of African Americans. For Scott, both are important for understanding where African Americans have been and where they are going.