Confederate History & Heritage Month: The Alabama Black Belt

Slavery was heavily concentrated in the fertile region known as the "Alabama Black Belt". 

It's important to remember what brought the white man Westward. Fertile soil, and the opportunity to make a ton of money on the backs of others.

Soil areas of Alabama. 

An excerpt of an article published by Southern Spaces in 2004 on the Alabama Black Belt:

"In the 1820s and 30s, the Black Belt identified a strip of rich, dark, cotton-growing dirt drawing immigrants primarily from Georgia and the Carolinas in an epidemic of "Alabama Fever." Following the forced removal of Native Americans, the Black Belt emerged as the core of a rapidly expanding plantation area. Geologically, the region lies within the Gulf South's Coastal Plain in a crescent some twenty to twenty-five miles wide that stretches from eastern, south-central Alabama into northwestern Mississippi. The unusually fertile Black Belt (or Prairies) soil is produced by the weathering of an exposed limestone base known as the Selma Chalk, the remnant of an ancient ocean floor."

Typical exposure of Selma Chalk along the Tombigbee River. 1907. 

"Half of Alabama's enslaved population was concentrated within ten Black Belt counties where the exploitation of their labor made this one of the richest regions in the antebellum United States."

Slave to white population in 1860. 

"During the "flush times," Black Belt commerce on the Alabama, Black Warrior, and Tombigbee rivers transformed towns such as Montgomery, Selma, Demopolis, and Tuscaloosa and boosted the Gulf Coast port of Mobile."

Alabama Ordinance of Secession.

"Pro-slavery secessionist sentiment in the Black Belt led Alabama into the Confederacy in 1861. Briefly, following emancipation and the South's military defeat, African Americans first went to the state's polls in 1867 and held a variety of local, state, and national political offices. With the mid-1870s however, came the restoration of white rule. Then, "for a hundred years," wrote Selma civil rights attorney J. L. Chestnut in his 1990 autobiography, "the Black Belt dominated state politics and the big landowners dominated the Black Belt.""

Alabama's 1901 Constitution.

"Through violence, appeals to white supremacy, and massive voter fraud, the Black Belt's oligarchs defeated the 1890s challenge of the Populists and inscribed their power in a straitjacket of a state constitution that disfranchised the African American population along with many poor whites. This 1901 Alabama constitution, concluded historian Wayne Flynt, would keep Alabama "throughout the twentieth century at or near the bottom among all states in . . . property taxes, public services, and quality of life.""

Booker T. Washington.

"A second meaning of Black Belt as a region or place with majority-black population grew as a consequence of the expansion of slavery throughout the southern states. "I have often been asked to define the term 'Black Belt,'" commented Booker T. Washington in 1901:
"So far as I can learn, the term was first used to designate a part of the country which was distinguished by the colour of the soil. The part of the country possessing this thick, dark, and naturaly rich soil was, of course, the part of the South where the slaves were most profitable, and consequently they were taken there in the largest numbers. Later, and especially since the war, the term seems to be used wholly in a political sense — that is, to designate the counties where the black people outnumber the white.""

Restoring the honor!


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