Sewell’s “Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area Act” Awaits Presidential Signature
A bill to create an “Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area” has won Congressional approval and now goes to President Biden for his signature.
The bill, authored by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Alabama), would designate the 14 counties of Alabama’s Black Belt as a National Heritage Area, preserving history while creating new funding and tourism opportunities, according to her office.
“As the birthplace of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights movements, the Black Belt is where some of the most consequential chapters of American history played out,” Sewell said in a statement. “As a proud daughter of the Black Belt, I’m thrilled that this region will be getting the national recognition it deserves, and I remain endlessly grateful to my colleagues for their support in this worthwhile endeavor!”
National Heritage Areas are established by Congress for the purpose of assisting efforts to protect and promote communities that are regarded as distinctive because of their culture, history, resources, and environment. These historic areas are authorized to receive up to $1 million in federal funding annually to preserve, protect and promote important sites.
Under the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area Act, the University of West Alabama would collaborate with the National Park Service and Black Belt communities to determine a strategic management plan.
“Designating Alabama’s Black Belt as a National Heritage Area is a tremendous achievement and marks the culmination of more than a decade of work and support by countless volunteers and organizations not only across the Black Belt but from throughout the State of Alabama and across the nation,” Dr. Tina Naremore Jones, Assistant Provost and Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development at the University of West Alabama, said.
Th bill originally passed the U.S. House in July by a vote of 365-57. An amended version passed the Senate unanimously on December 20. The House passed the amended version by a vote of 326 to 95 last week, sending it to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.