Road trip not sufficient time to know the Black Belt

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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An Editorial Opinion of The Lowndes Signal

A popular social media influencer recently began a series of videos to chronicle his journey through the region of Alabama known as the Black Belt. Hailing from somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, the tourist is documenting his journey up through the state “discovering” the region rich in coal-black soil and a heritage steeped in agriculture, the struggle for freedom and a heritage as diverse as its people.

There are 18 counties comprising the Black Belt — Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox. Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Monroe and Washington are sometimes added to the list as well, but traditionally do not make the cut.

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Viewers can watch the influencer stop for a worship service in Peterman, learning a little about the rural Monroe County town. He eases his way up, stopping off in Brantley, near South Crenshaw County, for a cold “coke” and in Greenville (Butler County) for a sample of Bates’ famous turkey.

One wonders, though, as he crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge, how he missed stopping for the event-filled Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, or whether he considered that the 1965 marchers made their way from Selma to Montgomery through Lowndes County.

We ask ourselves if a man, or woman, can really know the Black Belt from what they learn on a road trip. Will they understand Demopolis, so named by French expatriates in the early 1800s and seated at the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers, if they do not stick around for Christmas on the River?

Black Belt communities are more than the sum of their parts. As a community newspaper, we relish the opportunity to know every part of the people and places which make up the region and enjoy the days that transition into months and years of covering the news of our people.

It is good that social media viewers will sample a taste of the Black Belt, thanks to one influencer curious enough to chronicle their tour.

We do hope the short road trip will result in people eager to discover the richness of Black Belt communities.