Jones And Shelby Introduce Legislation To Establish Alabama Black Belt As National Heritage Area

Dakota Layton | February 28, 2020
Former slave cabins at Faunsdale Plantation in Marengo County.

On Friday, Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones introduced a bill known as the “Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area Act,” S.3363. A press release stated that the bill would “establish the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area, authorizing nineteen counties in Alabama’s Black Belt Region as a National Heritage Area (NHA)” and “would allow for federal funding to be directed to the designated region over the span of 15 years.”

“Designating Alabama’s Black Belt region as a National Heritage Area will not only promote tourism, but it will also increase public awareness of the natural, historical, and cultural assets our state has to offer,” said Senator Shelby. 

“Investing in this region to preserve these unique and diverse resources is important for future generations.  If passed, this legislation could have a significant impact for years to come.”

Senator Jones stated, “Alabama’s Black Belt counties were originally named due to the area’s rich, black topsoil,”

“While that is still an accurate depiction of the area, another is of the Black Belt’s rich history and culture.  The 19 counties that makeup Alabama’s Black Belt has been home to some of our greatest artists, writers, and leaders.  This legislation will help preserve and celebrate this historic region through much-needed investment.”

Senator Shelby also sent out a tweet praising the legislation writing, “Proud to introduce legislation in the Senate to designate Alabama’s Black Belt region as a National Heritage Area, which would promote tourism & increase public awareness of the natural, historical, and cultural assets our state has to offer:”

The press release also indicated that there is a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Alabama Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Martha Roby (R-Ala.) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Shelby introduced similar legislation during the 111th Congress and the 113th Congress,” the release stated.

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