Commission has been effective

Published 9:32pm Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We sat at tables arranged in a square in the Alabama State Capitol. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley sat in the middle of one table creating a head table by his presence. Ron Sparks, Director of the Alabama Office of Rural Development sat by his side. In spite of the squared table arrangement, each speaker directed his/her remarks to the Governor. They wanted him to really understand the importance of the Black Belt Commission. The Black Belt Commission was conceived and implemented seven years ago to help transform the Alabama Black Belt, one of the poorest areas in the United States of America.

Initially, we decided that no funds would be set aside to operate or support the Black Belt Commission. Our belief was that a pot of money would attract the money grabbers; cause struggles over who would get what; cause solutions to be framed by the available money; cause other resources to be overlooked and underutilized; and folk would be gone when the money was gone.

The Black Belt Commission was so successful that the areas of the state wanted “their own Black Belt Commission.”

In response to these desires, a statewide commission of the Alabama Rural Action Commission was created.

But it was no Black Belt Action Commission, for it did not utilize the principles employed by the Black Belt Commission.

However, I must return to the opening scene set forth in this Sketches of committee chairs and others sharing with the Governor of Alabama.

Committee chairs informed the Governor about specific accomplishments, commitments, inspirations, etc.

I wish I had space to list some of those here.

However, the Governor got a full dose but that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The Black Belt Commission had been good for the Alabama Black Belt and the State of Alabama.

I just hope the Governor of Alabama understands its full significance and its work in the Alabama Black Belt.

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