Liz Wells: For the Black Belt to claim its inheritance in that the people who live there, the people who work there—I don’t care if you’re black, white, whatever—to claim the gifts of that era, of that place. I don’t mean, not just farmers and whatever else everybody does, but to say, “I am worth. I have worth. I am a person. Give me a job. Help me get a job.” Put industry—put something in there—that will help these people grow and be. There are young people who want out. And people wonder, “Why isn’t the Black Belt growing?” What do they got to grow to? If you have an education and you’re smart like this young man is, where is he going to go? What is he going to do? Instead of starting a private white school, why not funnel all of your money into the public school there? So that’s when I say—and I get on my soapbox—because I believe in those people and their ability and what they can be. I had never seen poverty like that before. Never knew that my kids who didn’t have—if you didn’t have a breakfast or lunch, you didn’t eat. So when people talk to me about welfare programs and all these kinds of things that are bad, maybe we need to restructure them and help give that aid, but give them something in return as a way to work. A way to work and go. Because the Black Belt is not just land, it’s the people and they have a rich heritage.

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