Living Democracy

Life in the Black Belt of Alabama

Cristiana Shipma:

"For the Past 10 weeks, I have been living in rural Alabama in a small town of [two thousand] people called Linden.  Linden sits in Marengo County, one of the eighteen counties that form what is known as the Black Belt of Alabama.  The Black Belt is one of the poorest regions in the United States of America, and in all honesty is not one of the easiest places to call home.  Depending on where you live, you could drive over twenty miles to get to the nearest Wal-Mart, even farther for the nearest Target, or Kroger, or Publix.

"For reasons of employment, much of the population has left the Black Belt in search of the opportunities the big cities can provide.  But if you can look past the inconveniences of rural living, there's a distinct beauty to the Black Belt.  I wanted to talk to those who stayed when they could've left.  Those who have seen that beauty and fallen in love with it.  I wanted to know why people stayed in Linden.

"Here are the stories of those that I talked with.  You'll here the voices of five people: Eighty-three year old Betty Jean Tucker, who recently published a book; Michelle Jackson, a women who's lived her whole life in Linden and now works for the health department; Warren Stokes, who moved to Linden to work at the paper mill and never left; Syvill Pritchett, who lives with her husband in Linden and loves it; and finally, Francis Jackson, who married a man from Montgomery but never thought of living anywhere else.

"I asked each person a series of questions and here are there answers."

Please listen to the audio files to hear stories from people who love Linden.

Last Updated: November 01, 2016