Bust of Cudjoe “Kazoola” Lewis
On February 12, 2017 a cast iron portrait bust of Cudjoe “Kazoola” Lewis was unveiled in Plateau, Alabama. Historians believe that Lewis was the last survivor of America’s last slave ship. The bust was installed in front of the Union (Missionary) Baptist Church located in Africatown (Plateau), near Mobile, Alabama. It is welded and bolted to its pedestal, with a plaque detailing Lewis’ life and legacy mounted beneath. From its place in front of the church, the bust of Lewis looks out on the Africatown cemetery which is directly across the road. In the 1860s, Lewis and other survivors of the slave ship, The Clotilda, established the Africatown community. Many of their descendants still live in the area.
The commemorative sculpture of Mr. Lewis honors the resilience of the Africatown community and the insistence that this history be remembered. The donors for this work came from all over. Some lived in Africatown, and others lived in other parts of America, Europe, or Africa. This group of diverse donors felt the importance of honoring Lewis, his fellow survivors, and the generations that came afterward. The installation of this bust sent a message that this part of history could not be ignored or erased.
Honoring Minorities in Medicine
In 2018, April Terra Livingston was commissioned to create trio of iron sculptures for the Mobile Medical Museum in Mobile, Alabama. The sculptures honor the achievements and healing of overlooked members of the medical community. Livingston created the patterns in Mobile and then cast them in iron at the Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum in Solsberry, Indiana.
To honor midwives, both past and present, Livingston created a sculpture featuring the hands of living local midwives, nurses and other local medical practitioners. She used alginate to make copies of the womens hands, and she cast the entire sculpture in iron. During segregation, midwives were especially important to black women and women of color, whose hospitals were underfunded and understaffed. Today, midwives continue to offer their services to all women during pregnancy, through labor, and after birth.
MRS. BESSIE MCGHEE
Livingston created a cast iron portrait bust of Bessie McGhee. Herbs and plants commonly used by native healers surround the bust, and they are also cast in iron. Bessie McGhee was born in Atmore, Alabama, and she acted as a respected leader for her Poarch Creek Tribe. Along with her work as a healer and midwife, she was also a passionate political advocate for her people.
DR. JAMES A. FRANKLIN
For Dr. James Alexander Franklin, Livingston created a full bodied, figurative maquette. Dr. Franklin served as a pillar of the medical community in Mobile, Alabama, for 53 years. He was widely said to have never turned away a penniless patient. After graduating in 1914 from the University of Michigan, he helped create a community of medical services for minority people in Mobile, Alabama. His house often served as a sanctuary for African Americans needing shelter or aid.