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Mississippi native Alfred Williams to be first Black angler inducted into Bass Fishing Hall of Fame

Mississippi native Alfred Williams is widely considered a trailblazer in the fishing world (Photo courtesy of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame)

Mississippi’s very own, Alfred Williams, has cast another historic line with his recent achievement of being selected for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

Williams, 76, of Jackson, headlines this year’s class as the first Black inductee in the Hall of Fame’s 23-year existence. Williams is joined by Mark Zona, Skeet Reese, Mike McKinnis, and Fred Arbogast as the quartet of fishing excellence will be honored on Sept. 26 as part of Celebrate Bass Fishing Week in Springfield, Mo.

“While the board holds the final decision on how many we induct each year, the final voting process this year was loud and clear that these five men deserved the honor,” Hall of Fame Board president John Mazurkiewicz said, per a press release.

Williams, who was born and raised in Mississippi’s capital city during the crux of the civil rights movement, is widely considered a trailblazer for helping Black anglers overcome any racial barriers that existed in the world of bass fishing.

After returning from the Vietnam War, Williams was oftentimes the only Black participant in local tournaments and soon found a spot on the professional scene. In 1983, after winning a qualifying tournament at the Ross Barnett Reservoir, Williams became the first African American to compete in the national Bassmaster Classic on the Ohio River. He ultimately placed 10th out of 42 contenders.

“If any barriers existed in the world of bass fishing, Williams quietly and confidently overcame them,” a portion of Williams’ biography on the Hall of Fame’s website reads. “His success attracted many more African American anglers to bass fishing and paved the way for Ish Monroe, Mark Daniels, Jr., and other Black pro anglers to follow.”

Over his extensive career, Williams competed in nearly 300 Bassmaster and Fishing League Worldwide events, winning four pro-level contests and earning numerous top 10 finishes. He still lives in the Jackson area and serves as a mentor to other Black anglers throughout the state and across the nation.

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