Mobile, AL — WKRG
Charity and faith combine in Mobile’s Plateau Community. A local artist is working with a mobile church to make a new bust of Cudjoe Lewis. Lewis was the oldest survivor of the Clotilde, the last ship to bring slaves to the US just before the civil war.
At Union Missionary Baptist Church–there’s just an empty pedestal where a bust of Cudjo Lewis used to sit. The old bust was stolen more than ten years ago.
“He symbolized a man of devotion, a man of God and a people that would not give up,” said Pastor Rev. Derek Tucker. The only remnant of Lewis at the church is his name on a historic marker.
“I thought ‘man, I know how to do that let’s fix it,’” said Sculptor April Livingston. Working with Pastor Tucker and the community, Livingston helped spearhead an effort to make a new sculpture. Unlike the old one, this new sculpture is a little more lifelike.
“More of a likeness than the original, I tried to capture his spirit and his emotion and there are a few changes here and there to make it a little more emotive,” said Livingston. She just got back from Sculpture Trails in Indiana. With a team of artists, interns, and volunteers at her side, they helped pour the molten metal that eventually will become the new sculpture. The only hard part will be making sure the bust won’t get stolen again.
“It’s going to be very heavy, so let them try,” Livingston said with a laugh. “I will anchor it and weld it if anyone tries to steal it and scrap it they’re not going to get very much money for it.”
With the help of the church and community, they surpassed their goal of $5,000 in a month’s time. Livingston said she worked on the statue pro-bono. They’re still trying to raise money via their go fund me page to improve the area around the sculpture. The bust should be presented to the church next month and installed once they can get the proper permitting and clearance from the city of Mobile.