ALABAMA (WDHN) — Two bills sponsored by U.S Senators Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville will extend the life of one national heritage site, and create another one in an area with deep cultural roots in Alabama.
The bills resulted in the reauthorization of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area in Northwest Alabama and the creation of the newest heritage site in the state, the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area.
In May 2021, Senators Tuberville and Shelby introduced the bill which would establish the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area. This would include 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 to become the second National Heritage Area in the state.
This bill will allow federal funding to be directed to the Black Belt Region over a 15-year time frame. It will also name the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at the University of West Alabama (UWA) as the local coordinating entity.
It’s important we honor the region’s significant impact in the civil rights movement and the fact that this area is home to some of our state’s most celebrated cultural figures. It is fitting that this region will become our state’s second National Heritage Area.
SENATOR TUBERVILLE ON THE CREATION OF THE ALABAMA BLACK BELT NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA
The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA), which includes Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, and Morgan counties, was first established by congress in 2009. This heritage site was set to expire in 2024, but the reauthorization bill presented by the two Senators will extend the programs and funding eligibility for another 15 years. This will end on approximately September 30, 2036.
Both bills were included in the National Heritage Area Act, which passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in May 2022.