History & Heritage
The Black Belt region played a critical role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Visitors can walk where history was made all across the region. Perhaps start in Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge or at the Selma-to-Montgomery Trail Interpretive Center Museum. In Montgomery, be sure to visit the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum which depicts the early stages of the Civil Rights movement.
Alabama’s most well-known Native American historical site is the Moundville Archaeological Park, about 15 miles from Tuscaloosa. Every fall, the park comes alive during the Native American Festival. Descendants from the ancient people come to perform, display arts and crafts and educate visitors of all ages about their heritage.
American musical hero Hank Williams looms large in the Black Belt, from his boyhood home and museum in Georgiana to one of the world’s largest collections of Williams memorabilia in the Hank Williams Museum. The Black Belt is also home to numerous festivals that feature all kinds of music.
Visitors to Alabama’s Black Belt region can take a step back in time by visiting antebellum homes like Gaineswood in Demopolis or the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, built in 1859-62. The Italianate home, built by Sen. Robert Jemison Jr. to serve as his town house, was the first home in Tuscaloosa to have a fully plumbed bathroom, and it also had a gas plant to provide fuel for lighting.
Alabama’s first state capital site is Old Cahawba. Cahawba was a thriving antebellum community at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama rivers during its time as state capital from 1819 to 1826. Today, visitors can stroll through the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily and stop by the Visitors Center from noon until 5 p.m. Spend some time among the ruins and get a feel for early Alabama.