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Digital Afro Media
2011 Decatur, Alabama's African American Pioneers
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New Tourism Video Highlights Decatur’s African-American Heritage
Decatur, Ala. — The Decatur/Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCCVB) has released a new video featuring noteworthy African-Americans and their contributions to the city of Decatur in the areas of religion, education, employment, military, athletics, and political and social change. Named after the patriotic hymn penned by the Johnson brothers as part of the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1900, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” chronicles the many stories and experiences of former slaves, quasi-free slaves, civic leaders, and educational visionaries from pre-Civil War days to today’s leaders who have made a difference with their voice and hard work.

Noted African-Americans can be traced back prior to the Civil War when area slaves paid for the construction of their own house of worship. Spanning over 180 years, the video highlights important milestones including the steps taken to an equal and quality education for all and the publishing of the town’s first African-American newspaper. It also documents the transition for African-Americans from a predominately agricultural workforce into skilled positions, as well as the many struggles which led to basic rights enjoyed by all today, such as freedom of religion, the right to a jury of one’s peers, and the right to vote.

“Our goal for the video is to educate our citizens and visitors on those African-Americans who paved the way for a better life for future generations to embrace and enjoy,” said Tami Reist, president of the Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is important to document the city’s heritage and pay tribute to these inspiring leaders, yet our history is somewhat lacking as it relates to the role of African-Americans and their contributions. The video will play a key role in preserving the stories and experiences while showing how far we have come as a community.”

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was developed and produced by Freedom Light Productions of Decatur, Ala. Contributing to the video include Melinda Dunn of Decatur Parks and Recreation, John Allison of the Morgan County Archives, Wes Torain, and local historians Rev. Wylheme H. Ragland, Peggy Allen Towns, and Phil Wirey.

The video may be viewed on the DMCCVB website at www.decaturcvb.org under “Videos,” or on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website at www.alabama.travel. For more information, call 800.524.6181.

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