A pair of bills aimed at preserving Alabama’s history was signed into law last week as part of the National Heritage Area Act.
Drafted by U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and former U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), the bills renew the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area for 15 more years and create a new area, the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area.
“It was a privilege to join Senator Shelby on these two efforts to support the preservation and promotion of our state’s history,” Tuberville said in a statement. “This is a great example of how the federal government can work with local communities to ensure future generations have access to some of our country’s most historical and cultural sites.”
He said the new Heritage Area was established to honor the “region’s significant impact in the civil rights movement.”
“The reauthorization of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and the creation of the new Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area ensure future generations have access to some of our country’s most historic cultural sites,” Tuberville said in a tweet.
In May 2021, Tuberville and Shelby introduced the bill for the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area which covers Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox Counties in the Black Belt Region.
“The bill allows federal funding to be directed to the designated region over the span of 15 years and names the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at the University of West Alabama (UWA) as the local management entity,” Tuberville’s press release said.
The bill to renew the Muscel Shoals National Heritage Area was introduced in April 2022.
“The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area was first established by Congress in 2009 and was set to expire in 2024,” the release said. “Their reauthorization bill extends the programs and funding eligibility for the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area for another 15 years.”