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 28, 2020
Savage hopes to bring new museum to Washington County
Savage hopes to bring new museum to Washington County

Micki Savage, a local historian in Washington County, has worked for more than 10 years to educate students about African American history. Active in many organizations, she founded the Prestwick Preservation Society and is now working toward building a museum to celebrate local black history.

By Thomas Chapman
July 29, 2020
Doctor's team takes on COVID challenges
Doctor's team takes on COVID challenges

From the largest of hospitals in major American cities to small private clinics in rural areas, healthcare providers are grappling with how to care for patients and try to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Addison Peacock
July 22, 2020
BAMA Kid stays involved as adult leader
BAMA Kid stays involved as adult leader

Samantha Gomez moved to Wilcox County from Queens, New York, when she was only two weeks old. She grew up in Alabama’s Black Belt and works today in programs focused on youth development and eliminating inequalities rooted in socioeconomic disparities.

By Amy Clark
July 20, 2020
New library space will celebrate 'Our Town'
New library space will celebrate 'Our Town'

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, Collinsville residents have been unable to visit one of the most central places in town, the public library. Some good news is that they may not recognize it when they do return.

By Addison Peacock
July 14, 2020
COVID-19 shuts out summer youth sports in Elba
COVID-19 shuts out summer youth sports in Elba

During the last four months, American across the nation discovered they have a lot of free time. Historically, Americans spend hours enjoying and participating in sporting events such as baseball.

By Harrison Carter

By Ashby Henry
Last Updated: September 11, 2022