Morgan attends ‘Black Belt 100 Lenses’ summer camp

Published 10:31 am Monday, June 25, 2012

Jessica Morgan recently attended the Black Belt 100 Lenses Summer Camp.

By Kristin Law
Arts Coordinator, Black Belt Foundation

Lowndes County’s Jessica Morgan was among 41 participants during the third annual Black Belt 100 Lenses Summer Camp, hosted by the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) and the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP).

Public and private high school students spent five days on The University’s [EI1]campus after having taken approximately 50 photographs to represent the culture of Lowndes County and the Black Belt region in general.

Email newsletter signup

The Black Belt 100 Lenses Camp took place June 10 – 14 and included participants from Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox Counties.

Students began the Black Belt 100 Lenses experience with a county-specific orientation during the school year, at which time they were given digital cameras and challenged to take photographs that represent both positive and negative aspects of their communities.

Throughout the camp, students discussed the issues and assets in their communities, and they generated ideas for positive change.

Additionally, participants experienced exciting presentations on the history and significance of the Black Belt from Tuskegee University’s Dr. Walter Hill and his son Osei Hill (Macon County), poet and journalist Dr. Carol P. Zippert (Greene County), and the Coleman Center for the Arts’ Nathan Pureth (Sumter County); created art and spoke intimately with Black Belt artists Charlie “Tin Man” Lucas (Dallas County), Linda Munoz (Sumter County), and Johnny Williams (Greene County); and shared ideas and concerns with BBCF staff about current community development and enrichment initiatives.

The 2012 Summer Camp enables students to create a network of young leaders committed to giving back to the Black Belt.

At week’s end, parents and community members were treated to an exhibition of the students’ photographs and writing and to a celebratory reception.

During the reception, students presented creative projects, including spoken word, photography, a reading of creative writings, and a video documentary about the camp experience.

Returning student Tyesha Bonner (Pickens County) shared that “It’s strange just how much a program could change your perspective on how you visualize things. Black Belt 100 Lenses has opened up doors that I never knew were there. I learned that not only can we, the youth, make a large impact on our community but there are people willing to help us put those ideas into real life.”

Community exhibits will be held in each county between August and November 2012, in order to share the students’ perspective and to encourage discussion within the respective communities. Details will be released as plans are confirmed.

Black Belt 100 Lenses began in Sumter County in 2007, and it has developed into a respected forum for the youth of the Alabama Black Belt region to voice their appreciation for and concerns about their communities.

The Black Belt 100 Lenses project seeks to depict the culture of the Black Belt region of Alabama through the eyes of its youth. Based on the PhotoVoice method, the project combines photography with grassroots social action, encouraging students to think critically about the issues in their communities and to take charge as leaders to address those issues through civic discussion, participation and action[EI2].

The project is sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA), the Black Belt Community Foundation, and the University of Alabama’s Center for Community Based Partnerships.

“The success of camp has BBCF’s staff and partners excited about what the future holds,” Felecia L. Jones BBCF Executive Director said. “The Black Belt 100 Lenses Directors are working as we speak to prepare students for county specific exhibitions and community based projects! What an amazing opportunity for the students and the entire Black Belt region.”

To learn more about the Black Belt 100 Lenses project or the Black Belt Community Foundation, contact Kristin Law, Arts Coordinator at 334.874.1126 or