Black Belt projects to be discussed

Published 9:51 pm Saturday, June 27, 2009

When Cicely Curtis looks out across Alabama’s Black Belt, she sees green.

But this is not the green ecological movement per se, although it could be; it’s not the single green of dollars, although it’ll take funding to accomplish some of the goals.

“I see going green as developing a holistic community and its use what you have to turn the Black Belt green,” she said.

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An explanation and discussion of projects to enable the Black Belt will be discussed tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. The Rev. James Jackson is the host pastor.

The featured speaker for the evening is Congressman Artur Davis, who represents the 7th District, which includes a major portion of the Black Belt.

For Curtis, the daughter and granddaughter of civil rights pioneers, the idea of community building seemed like the right thing to do.

Turning the Black Belt Green is a faith-based and community project of the Selma-Dallas County Think Tank.

The project has recruited community builders composed of educators, business owners and leaders of existing community non-profit organizations to collaborate and develop action plans to ultimately provide a quality education, generate jobs and prepare the work force for global competition.

The Think Tank was founded in 2007 by state Rep. Yusuf Salaam. The key to bringing growth to an area, according to the legislator, is to focus on a challenge or issue or priority.

This is the method of the Think Tank and by selectively working together through theory, practicum and action, Salaam believes success will follow. After all, he said, these are new ideas. This method was part of Booker T. Washington’s work at Tuskegee.

Salaam stresses this is a “bottom up” strategy for working for success in the Black Belt, meaning everyday people working through a variety of coalitions, “community building in education, economic development and other aspects of our lives will join with public sector, private sector and the government to work for everyone.”