Perceptions of Perry County and the Black Belt have transformed from pinnacles of the Old South to abandoned towns with empty buildings. Today the essence of these communities is lost on travelers who do not go beyond the surface of what they see while passing through. Yet, there is a beauty to these towns that can be discovered through the voices of the people who have lived there.

The Faces of Marion project, funded by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, uses the senses of sight and sound to move beyond these generalizations.  The stories and photographs of Marion residents were collected by Samford University’s Oral History Program, Jonathan Bass, and Caroline Summers.

“The Black Belt is not just land. It’s the people.”

-Elizabeth Wells

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Annie Ford Wheeler - Memories of Marion
Annie Wheeler recalls life in Hamburg. 
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Bill Matthews - Marion's History and Story
Bill Mathews talks about efforts to preserve Black Belt history. 
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Emma and Lloyd Peterson
Emma and Lloyd Peterson recall memories of Jimmie Lee Jackson and the day of his murder. 
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Jo Ann Dozier - Changes in Marion
Jo Ann Dozier discusses life in the country and her family’s move to Marion. 
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Liz Wells - Black Belt Inheritance
Liz Wells recounts her experience with both poverty and promise in the Black Belt.