Community action in Alabama's Black Belt timber-dependent communities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Social indicators research

Publication Date


Date Added



The current decline in the economic well-being of the residents of the Alabama's Black Belt communities is well documented. High poverty rates, limited job growth, falling real per capita income, and increased out-migration are signs of current economic problems. With the resurgence of interest in promulgating self-help and community action mechanism at the local, state, and national levels, the purpose of this research is to examine collective community action by local officials in the Black Belt Timber Dependent communities to meet the social and economic well-beings of local residents. Data from the case study research indicate that race is the primary factor in actions with a collective dimension in Forestville. Inequality based on race suppresses interaction among the residents whose lives and well-being are in fact tied together ecologically; and, without interaction, collective local action cannot exist. The community has not been hospitable to African Americans because they are viewed or seen as social inferiors and this view is expressed by many whites who grew up in the community. The white leadership discouraged collective action in order to maintain its hegemony in the community. The African Americans with political power have no resources and great exertion is needed to change established community relationships. In Forestville, racial and ethnic cleavages makes collective community actions to levelop local business and industry and human services impossible. Implications of the research findings are discussed.


Public Health