Black Belt Heritage tour scheduled

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The inaugural Black Belt Heritage Tour, beginning and ending in Selma, is scheduled for Feb. 6-8.

The tour will be the kickoff event for Black History Month in Selma and Dallas County.

Points on the itinerary include a visit to Lincoln Normal School, in Marion, where the foundations of the Alabama civil rights movement were laid.

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That will be followed by a visit to Gees Bend to visit the renowned quilt makers of the area.

There will be an overnight stop in Thomasville where participants will see a play about Sojourner Truth and the place where Miles College began. In Monroeville, the group will see the setting of Harper Lee’s &uot;To Kill a Mockingbird&uot; and attend a concert by the Morning Star Baptist Church choir. Then Consuela Lee will give a program on black music and culture at the Snow Hill Institute.

The second night in Selma, at the conclusion of the tour, will feature a mass meeting followed by activities all day Sunday, featuring prominent African-American leaders.

On Monday 12 members of the 15-member planning committee boarded a van provided by Tabernacle Baptist Church and made the tour, a total of 267 miles.

The tour will feature Southern cooking along the way.

The tour is being publicized widely, according to Vice – through the mailing list of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, which is co-sponsor, and through the media.

Vice said that at each stop on the tour, citizens who lived through the history being highlighted will be present and answer questions.

According to Joanne Bland, tour director of the National Voting Rights Museum, the planning committee, which has been working for three months, is very representative of Selma and Dallas County. She said the work thus far has been highly instructive to participants.

Bland said that planners hope the tour will become an annual event.

Bland also praised those groups who have supported the planning effort, including Tabernacle Baptist Church; Brown Chapel AME Church; Lincoln Normal School; the Quilters of Gees Bend; Williams Temple CME Church in Thomasville, which later became Miles College; the Monroe County Heritage Museum; the Snow Hill Institute; and the St. James Hotel.

The bus tour is open to all who are interested in black history and culture. The cost, while not finalized, will be about $400. For further information contact Joanne Bland (334) 418-0800.

Also, Vice said that information about the tour will soon be posted on the tourism initiative’s Web site: