The Alabama Black Belt stretches from the Mississippi border through the heart of the state covering 19 counties across west and south Alabama. It is where some of the state’s most significant historical events took place, from de Soto meeting Tuskaloosa to the birth of the Confederacy to the civil rights struggles in the 20th century. The area is rich in tradition and culture and the people are strong. Yet, nowhere in the state of Alabama are the effects of poverty more pronounced than in the Black Belt. Economic stagnation, inadequate health care, poor education, unemployment and a host of other social ills are common there. Children and families in the Black Belt face the extreme hardships caused by poverty and isolation that have continued through generations of rural Alabamians.
Fortunately, the people who live in the Black Belt are offered hope for a brighter future by a determined and dedicated group of researchers at The University of Alabama.
The cover story of this issue focuses on how the University is offering support to children and families in the state’s Black Belt region by assisting with child care, parenting resources, health care, education, teen empowerment and preventing domestic violence. These efforts will make a difference and help them overcome daunting social and economic obstacles that clutter the path out of poverty.
The University of Alabama is committed to supporting an improved quality of life for those in our state, across the nation and throughout the world. From our project with Tuskegee University on improving rural health care to our work with Procter & Gamble in developing 3G phones to make us savvy consumers, research at The University of Alabama is designed to enhance the progress of the state and meet the ever-changing needs of all its citizens.
Robert E. Witt
President, The University of Alabama