Black Belt Historical Designation Planners Invite Public Input

By Tommy Stevenson Associated Press A “stakeholders” meeting is planned for next month at the University of West Alabama in Livingston as the next step in getting 19 Alabama Black Belt counties declared a National Heritage Area by Congress. “We are inviting public officials and concerned citizens from all 19 counties, as well as the public,” Tina Narremore Jones, the director of UWA’s Center for the Study of the Black Belt, said Thursday. Nike Free Rn Flyknit Donna “We want it to be a town hall-type meeting so we can get as much input as possible.” U.S. asics gel kinsei 4 uomo Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala, who represents many of the counties in the region, said he will host the meeting. Nike Air Max 90 Pas Cher Pour Femme The date has not yet been determined. “Getting Congress to designate a National Heritage Area can be a long, arduous process, but the folks in Livingston are already off to a good start, and I plan to get a bill ready for introduction in the next session,” Davis said. “Calling stakeholders together to discuss the direction we want to go is the next natural step.” Davis said a designation as a National Heritage Area brings benefits, including federal funding for sites in the area and recognition that draws tourism. “But so far, Congress has only designated 37 such areas and we will have to have a very good plan in place to add the Black Belt to that list,” he said. Davis said the rich heritage of the Black Belt could boost the image and economy of an area that has long been one of the most poverty-stricken places in the country. A recent study found that creating a heritage area in southwest Michigan and focusing on the automotive industry added $123 million in tourism revenue and helped create about 2,100 jobs. While Davis acknowledges that some members of Congress concerned with property rights and federal spending have become alarmed by the proliferation of National Heritage Areas – 10 were created last year alone – he thinks he can make a good case for the Black Belt as a natural for such a designation. asics gel lyte 5 hombre “I don’t know of any place in the country that needs economic stimulation like the Black Belt does,” Davis said. Heritage areas are eligible for as much as $1 million in federal matching grants.

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  • A National Heritage Area is defined by Congress as a place where “natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of activity shaped by geography.” To Jones, that sounds like a perfect description of the Black Belt, the swath of counties across south central Alabama named for the rich soil that supported the vast cotton plantations of the antebellum South. Those plantations were the engine of Alabama’s economy before the Civil War, and its leaders dominated the state’s politics before becoming one of the focal points of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. air max pas cher “Our area is rich in all kinds of history and points of interest, from the old plantation mansions in towns like Greensboro, Eutaw and Gainesville, to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma where the Selma-to-Montgomery march began (in 1965), to the many museums, like the Safe House Museum in Greensboro, where Dr. ffxiv gil for sale Martin Luther King often stayed, to the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery and the Civil Rights Institute in Selma,” Jones said. To that list, Davis adds the town of Monroeville in Monroe County. “That’s the home of Harper Lee and she used it as a model for the small southern town in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ one of the most beloved books of all time,” he said. The first step in the process of achieving national heritage status began early this year with a 40-member Black Belt Area Task Force co-chaired by Jones and Dorothy Walker, the public outreach coordinator of the Alabama Historical Commission in Montgomery. The task force, which grew out of Gov. Bob Riley’s Black Belt Action Commission, met several times beginning last summer and have come up with a “thematic framework” called Alabama’s Black Belt: Where the Culture is as Rich as the Land. The framework traces the history of the area all the way back to the Mississippian Indian culture that flourished from about 1050 through the 1540s, when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his men were the first Europeans to lay eyes on the Black Belt. The framework’s “storylines” include descriptions of the “cotton kingdom” era, as well as the civil rights era and also includes passages about the landscape, the role the rivers of the Black Belt has played in its development and a “sub-theme” titled “Imagination and the Land: Arts, Crafts and Folkways” which delves into the developing culture of the region. “The goal of the task force is to paint as large a picture of the area as we can and to come up with a comprehensive inventory of historical places,” Jones said. “After that, it will be up to Congress to act.

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  • “One of the big things is to get these counties to work together in coming up with inventories of sites, festivals, trails and the like.” Davis said the next step will be to get Congress to approve a feasibility through the National Park Service, under whose jurisdiction heritage areas fall. Nike Air Max 2016 Heren blauw “After that comes an environmental study, which would also need a congressional appropriation and then actual legislation,” he said. “Obviously this can’t happen overnight, but we already have the process moving along.” There is no official designation of the counties in Alabama that should be included in the region known as the Black Belt. nike tn pas cher For the purpose of receiving a Congressional designation as a National Heritage Area, the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at the University of West Alabama considers the region to include the following counties: Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox.

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