Visions of the Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama by Robin McDonaldVisions of the Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama by Robin McDonald

Visions of the Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama

byRobin McDonald, Valerie Pope BurnesPhotographerRobin McDonald

Hardcover | August 15, 2015

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In Visions of the Black Belt, Robin McDonald and Valerie Pope Burnes offer a richly illustrated tour of the Black Belt, the fertile arc that represents the cultural efflorescence of Alabama’s heartland. Like knowledgeable friends, McDonald and Burnes guide readers through the Black Belt’s towns and architecture and introduce the region’s great panoply of citizens, farmers, craftspeople, cooks, writers, and musicians.
 
A constellation of Black Belt towns arose during Alabama’s territorial decades, communities like Selma, Camden, Eutaw, Tuskegee, Greenville, and many more. Visions of the Black Belt recounts their stories and others, such as Demopolis’s founding by exiles from Napoleon’s France. As an escarpment of clouds scuds across an indigo sky, the ruins of Alabama’s lost capital of Cahaba reveal the secrets of its lost squares. Also on this picturesque tour are the Black Belt’s homes, from artless cabins wreathed in fern to ozymandian manses wrapped by stately columns, such as Kirkwood and Reverie.
 
Among the emblematic houses of worship lovingly photographed in Visions of the Black Belt is Prairieville’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, noted for its “carpenter gothic” style. Also reflecting the region’s history of faith are poignant graveyards such as Greenville’s Pioneer Cemetery with its homespun memorials of seashell-and-concrete and the elegant marbles clad in ebon lichen of Selma's Live Oak Cemetery.
 
In photos and text, McDonald and Burnes bring to life the layers of history that shaped the Black Belt’s tastes, sounds, and colors. Their gastronomic discoveries include the picant crawfish of the Faunsdale Bar & Grill and GainesRidge Dining Club’s famed Black Bottom pie. They bring the sounds of the Black Belt to life by presenting a wide range of musicians and musical events, from bona fide blues and soul masters to Eutaw’s Black Belt Roots Festival.
 
Including two maps and more than 370 full-color photographs, Visions of the Black Belt offers a timeless message of faith, determination, and the rich simplicity of living in harmony with the rhythms of the land and nature.

Published in Cooperation with the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, Camden, Alabama
Writer and photographer Robin McDonald is the author of Heart of a Small Town: Photographs of Alabama Towns. Valerie Pope Burnes is an assistant professor of history and former director of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at the University of West Alabama.
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Title:Visions of the Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of AlabamaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 11 × 11 × 1.2 inPublished:August 15, 2015Publisher:University of Alabama PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0817318798

ISBN - 13:9780817318796

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

"Visions of the Black Belt is no mere coffee table book full of pretty pictures; it is a profound and intriguing piece of scholarship examining the overarching shadow of the past in a region uniquely defined by its heritage." ?—Mike Bunn, author of Lower Chattahoochee River (Images of America) and coauthor of Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812 "Visions of the Black Belt is a gorgeous, oversized coffee table book and it will, properly, be bought for the photos, but before talking about the photography, let me urge people ot be sure to read the text." —Don Noble, Bookmark, Alabama Public Television