Living Democracy

Ashby Henry discovers 'new home' in Camden

Less than a year ago, I did not know what the City of Camden was, I did not know anyone from Camden (except for the governor), and I could not have pointed it out on a map. Now, it is a place that I can call home. 

I visited Camden twice before I moved in for the summer of Living Democracy, and I quickly got the impression that the town was made up of good, kind, hardworking people. It is that and so much more. 

I have been welcomed as one of their own this summer, and I am so honored to have gotten to be a part of it, even for a little while. The people I met are smart, interesting, hardworking, genuine, and care deeply about their communities. 

Spending most of my time at Blackbelt Treasures, I got the privilege of getting to know the staff. 

I cannot thank my community partners, Sulynn Creswell and Kristin Law, enough. Their efforts to introduce me to the community, answer my questions, and suggestions on who to talk to were incredibly beneficial, and my internship would not have existed without them. 

My thanks also go to all those I interviewed, spoke to, or met. It was intimidating for me to move into a community I knew almost nothing about, without knowing anyone previously, but every step of the way I was greeted and welcomed by this community. I am so thankful for all those that I got to interview. I enjoyed the interactions I had and enjoyed getting to know new people. 

Those I spoke to may not have even realized the impact they made on me, simply my engaging in conversation or answering my many questions. 

Another person I must thank is Betty Anderson. I met Ms. Betty for the first time on my first visit to Camden last December. She took the time them to show my mother and I around her museum. Little did I know then the impact Ms. Betty and her museum would have on me. 

I chose to dedicate my project this summer and the proceeds received from it to Ms. Betty’s museum for an air conditioner. Ms. Betty has worked very hard over the years to accumulate, display, and maintain her Shoe Shoppe and Quilting Museum, though she is still without air conditioner. 

In observing how difficult the heat made it to comfortably maintain the museum and give tours, I decided this was a strong investment. The museum itself is full of local history, and a big lesson I learned this summer is how significant that history is. 

Personally, I had never considered West Alabama to be a historically and culturally significant part of the state. I knew very little about it. But constantly throughout the summer I learned that Wilcox County is such a treasure, as are the people there. Contributing to Ms. Betty’s museum was a small way for me to help preserve that history and beauty. 

I am so thankful for Ms. Betty. For her introducing me, allowing me to help her, and for becoming a friend. 

The investments you make are important, and I am so grateful I got the chance to know and to love Camden. Though I grew up only about an hour north of it, I learned about its differences and quirks, the challenges it faces, the people who live there, how they interact, and how they worship and how they live. 

Embarking on this summer I was very unsure of what it would bring. I am so grateful that it brought me a new place to call home.

 

 

 

July 20, 2021
Kayak & Canoe Competition being held in Elba
Kayak & Canoe Competition being held in Elba

Living Democracy student Oquendo Bernard is helping organize a Kayak & Canoe Competition Saturday, July 24, in Elba.

By Oquendo Bernard
July 15, 2021
1838 Historic Home, Pleasant Ridge, is under new ownership
1838 Historic Home, Pleasant Ridge, is under new ownership

When Colonel Scottie and his wife, Tammy Myers, took ownership of Pleasant Ridge, an historic home in Wilcox County built in 1838, there was much work to be done.

By Lauren Landers
July 13, 2021
Living Democracy Citizenship Award: Pastor Philip Box
Living Democracy Citizenship Award: Pastor Philip Box

Philip Box is a pastor, chaplain, husband, and father who really cares about being available for the people around him. He actively works to make the community a better place through his work at the Elba Church of Christ and beyond and is a deserving recipient of the 2021 Living Democracy Citizenship Award.

By Oquendo Bernard
July 9, 2021
L&B Fun Place Restaurant serves up soul food
L&B Fun Place Restaurant serves up soul food

In the aluminum foil pan sits hand-battered chicken breasts, fried golden brown and smothered in gravy. Nearby dishes of caramelized baked apples inside a crisp crust and baked and chopped sweet potatoes coated with brown sugar and butter are ready to serve.   

By Laney Mayfield
July 6, 2021
My first July 4th in America more than special
My first July 4th in America more than special

My very first July 4th celebration in America was a memorable one. I will never forget this Fourth of July experience, and I will be forever grateful to Elba for showing me how to celebrate Independence Day and how to bring a town together.

By Oquendo Bernard

By Ashby Henry
Last Updated: September 11, 2022