Florida Highwayman to visit library

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By The Staff

Friends of the Williston Public Library is pleased to announce that Al Black, an original Florida Highwayman, will appear at the library Thursday, March 20 at 7 p.m.

He will bring slides and some of his own paintings and talk about the early days of the Florida Highwaymen, a unique group of painters.

At the program in January with Gary Newton, from The Humanities Council, Al Black's paintings were brought spontaneously by those who came to the program.

Many local people have some of Mr. Black's artwork that they kindly shared with the rest of us in attendance.

Albert Lee Black was born in Jackson, Miss., in 1946. When very young he migrated to Florida to help support his younger brothers and sisters. He worked many jobs over the years and then met Alfred Hair, a painter. Hair hired Black to help sell his paintings.

Even though it was the unrestful time of the civil rights movement Al traveled to many Florida cities selling paintings.

It was Hair who encouraged Black to paint, and Black began to paint after Hair's death.

Another painter, Beannie Backus, told Black that he had a way with colors that he had never seen before.

After Hair's death Black went through a time of depression and lost will. He spent 12 years in the Florida Prison System and began painting in earnest there. He painted more than 400 murals on prison walls and taught painting to fellow inmates.

He still supports non-profit organizations by donating paintings for their causes.

Al says that his dreams have come true, that he is just a gentle man with a big heart and still has a down home love of the Florida landscape.

The program should be very interesting and "Friends" asks that those who brought Al Black paintings to the program in January bring them again for this program. Perhaps Al can talk about each one.