Boston’s Black history: A profile of photographer Sam Williams

BOSTON — Photographer Sam Williams tells Boston 25 News, it was a journey, learning how to speak up for himself. He says that journey started when his father, a newly-hired Black doctor at Boston’s Mass General Hospital, moved his biracial family of six to Concord, Massachusetts with a population that is overwhelmingly white.

“Being called a n----- over here since I was a kid so-- it’s, my experience isn’t unique. It is just another story in what is a hard truth in an area that is very segregated,” says Williams.

Williams says his family kept him grounded while he navigated racism, and struggled to fit in. He says having ADHD further isolated him from his classmates. But his mother encouraged creativity at home, and that led Williams to photography.

“Photography is very much an extension of my brain, and no matter what, if it’s kinda going anywhere, I can find those spots to focus in on and it gets it out much more clearly than I can say it,” Williams said.

We spoke with Williams outside the Needham library, where his work will be exhibited later this year. But Williams’ photos have been featured nationally. Recently, Williams assisted on a Time magazine photoshoot with famed author Ibram X. Kendi.

Williams spent the summer photographing racial justice movements and everyday life in Black communities.

“There was so much about getting people’s emotions and voicing whether it be frustration, whether it be happiness, sadness, you know, there was such a range at all of them,” Williams said. You know, photography is the study of light, and being able to be present in a moment and analyzing the area around you is one of the amazing beauties of having a camera. I am lucky to be part of this idea of we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere and we’re still here and we’re going to go forward, and nothing can be done to stop that momentum.”

You can see more of Williams’ work here.

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