Livingston and the University of West Alabama are set in a rich historical context as part of the state’s Black Belt Region. Named for its dark, fruitful soils, the Black Belt encompasses between 12 and 21 counties in the central part of Alabama, and it is geographically part of the larger Southern Black Belt, which stretches from Maryland to Texas. Not only is Alabama’s Black Belt rich in terms of agricultural opportunity, but the culture of the region proves distinct—with its own story to tell. In an effort to help tell the story of Black Belt’s past, present and future, the University of West Alabama established the UWA Black Belt Museum.
Located in the renovated McMillian Bank building in downtown Livingston, the UWA Black Belt Museum is housed within the Division of Economic Development and Outreach at the University of West Alabama. Through this partnership, the museum strives to act as a connection between the university and the community—and to provide students a way to use their academic interests to actively better the local area through the museum’s programs.
The mission of the UWA Black Belt Museum is to “collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret, and celebrate the landscape and rich history of the Black Belt of Alabama and Mississippi,” according to CenterForBlackBelt.org. To accomplish that mission, the UWA Black Belt Museum regularly features professional-level research collection in:
- Geology and paleontology
- Historical objects and archives
- Arts and crafts
- Botany and zoology and
While the Black Belt region is the primary focus of these collections, they also incorporate artifacts and data on a statewide level, such as the Alabama Plant Atlas—a comprehensive and searchable database of plants found throughout Alabama.
A self-proclaimed “museum without walls,” the majority of the UWA Black Belt Museum’s initiatives are conducted via programming all over the Southeast. The UWA Black Belt Museum supports a selection of programs for the university, local schools and the public that represent a range of educational interests. They include guided tours of Fort Tombecbe and other local historical sites, participation and group presentation activities, traveling living history programs for schools and guided tours of the museum’s exhibits.
Staff of the UWA Black Belt Museum are currently conducting research regarding fossil discoveries and regional natural and human history in the region, as the Black Belt is one of the most fruitful fossil resources in the world. Also happening this summer, on August 26, the Center for the Study of the Black Belt will co-host the Alabama-Mississippi Bicentennial Genealogy Conference: Making the Most of Every Moment at UWA. Individuals representing nine states have currently registered for the event.
Livingston and the University of West Alabama are fortunate to have the UWA Black Belt Museum as a resource for historical preservation and education in our local portion of the Black Belt region! To learn more about what the UWA Black Belt Museum has to offer, visit www.blackbeltmuseum.org.
Interested in furthering your education via our online programs? Browse our course offerings at www.uwa.edu/ce! You can register for our eLearning courses from anywhere that you have access to a computer and an internet connection.