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We invite you to join us in celebrating the unsung heroes and trailblazers within our midst – or as we call them ‘Black Belt Bold’. Their stories inspire, their actions uplift, and their impact resonates far beyond our community’s borders. Black Belt, in every step we take, in every triumph we achieve, history is still being made. Let us shine a spotlight on those who contribute to the rich tapestry of our community. Together, let us acknowledge and amplify the voices and stories of those who are making history now. As BBCF celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding across all of 2024, we will continue to amplify and celebrate these voices and stories.
Della Maynor

At the age of 14, Maynor marched for voting rights in her hometown of Marion, Alabama on the same fateful night that local church deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed, sparking the march to Selma and ultimately, Bloody Sunday. 

In the years since, Maynor has continued her advocacy for Civil Rights. She was awarded The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award in 2016, honoring her 50 years of faithful civil rights and community service from the Alabama Civil Rights Museum. 

Maynor represents the BBCF as an active Community Associate in Perry County. She continues her advocacy work with the youth in the community through coaching drama classes and designing and sewing costumes for stage productions.  

 

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews

“Black History is more than an account of African American achievements. Black History is the very essence of who people of African descent are. It embodies the greatness of a race who came to this country, against their wills; brought with them a strength, a genius, ingenuity, and creativity – contributing to the building of one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Black History is the suffering of enslaved people, and one of endurance. It is the fierce defiance of those who refused to adhere to the laws of Jim Crow; those who built schools and educated themselves and their children; those who built wealth for themselves; and those who have beat insurmountable odds; despite it all. Black History is a part of American History and of World History.”  – Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews

Born and raised in Camden, located in Wilcox County, Alabama, Matthews grew up in a family with a school teacher mother and a Presbyterian minister father. She and her three brothers learned early on the value of education, human, and civil rights. Matthews was one of eight students who integrated the segregated school system in Wilcox County in 1967 and was also active in demonstrating for African Americans’ right to vote. After decades of professional life serving in roles across Wilcox County public service and social work, in addition to directing the Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce (to name but a few), Matthews co-founded Better Activities Make All-around Kids Inc., better known as BAMA Kids, Inc. in 1993 as a direct response to the killing of a nineteen-year-old African American male. This community-based non-profit organization provides structured, positive activities for youth. As Executive Director, since its founding, Sheryl has raised millions of dollars in funding to support youth programming. BAMA Kids, Inc. provides academic instruction, arts and cultural activities, life skills and mentoring, impacting the lives of thousands, from youth to productive adulthood. Sheryl proudly serves as a longtime BBCF Community Associate for Wilcox County.

 

Kennard Randolph

Selma Housing Authority President/CEO Ignites Community Transformation

Innovative Leadership:

Bold leadership and forward-thinking initiatives spearheaded by the SHA President/CEO, Kennard Randolph propel the organization into a new era of progress and innovation.

Pathways to Homeownership:

Through groundbreaking programs, residents of Selma now have unprecedented opportunities to achieve the dream of homeownership, fostering a sense of pride and ownership within the community.

Public Housing Conversion: In a bold move towards modernization, the SHA President/CEO initiates the conversion of public housing to RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration), paving the way for enhanced living environments and amenities.

Expanded Affordable Housing:

By expanding access to Section 8 vouchers, the SHA President/CEO ensures that affordable housing remains within reach for all residents, promoting inclusivity and economic stability.

Resident-Oriented Activities:

Engaging and community-focused activities are at the forefront of the SHA’s initiatives, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie among residents while enhancing quality of life.

Kennard Randolph is the President/CEO of the Selma Housing Authority (SHA). Mr. Randolph is committed to building a diverse operational culture to help foster a competitive advantage. Mr. Randolph is an experienced public service representative in federal and local government affairs. As the former Congressional Black Belt Outreach Manager for Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, Mr. Randolph built a reputation for being attentive to critical matters impacting the constituents of the historical City of Selma.

Mr. Randolph’s previous Congressional role afforded him the opportunity to create a direct pipeline to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Park Service and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. He is especially proud of the multitude of social and supportive services he helped secure from HUD, DOT and the USDA to help Selma residents achieve self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives.

Mr. Randolph grew up in Selma and attended Public Schools. He credits this experience with understanding the value of partnering with federal agencies to deliver a better quality of life in rural America, from roads, farming and water to quality housing for families, our senior citizens and the disabled.

In 2016, Randolph was recognized by Selma the Magazine, as one of the 20 under 40 outstanding community leaders. This prestigious recognition is awarded to only 20 individuals throughout the city each year. He also completed the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Boot Camp. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and the 100 Black Men of America – Selma. Mr. Randolph currently serves on the board of directors for the Cahaba Mental Health Center and the Black Belt Community Foundation.

Jacqueline Webb Underwood

Choctaw County’s Jacqueline Webb Underwood is keen on connecting opportunities with bold vision. She knew right away that when Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey changed the age requirement for Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) in Alabama from 21 to 18 years of age that there was an immediate economic and career opportunity such as had not existed before in rural Choctaw County where high unemployment co-exists alongside limited career opportunity. With several logging companies, concrete operations, hardware, furniture and drop yard businesses operating there already, and all of them requiring their commercial drivers to have either a Class A or B CDL, she envisioned creating the area’s first CDL Training School. With this in mind, Jacqueline sought fundraising for her project and applied to BBCF’s Community Grants cycle in 2023, gaining financial support that allowed her to create U Matter, a CDL training school located in Butler, Alabama. Later she was able to receive support from the state of Alabama.

The old saying “location is everything” rang very true for Jacqueline, since before U Matter, the closest CDL program was 100 miles away from Choctaw County! So for the unemployed and anyone unable to attend out of county programs so far away, the creation of U Matter began a golden opportunity.

 

 

The state’s lowering of the age requirement opened up her ability to approach local high school students who might have an interest in studying for their CDL before or after their graduation.  Student drivers have been able to study and work while living at home with their families. Student drivers are taught hours of service, accident procedures, preventative maintenance, and pre-trip inspections across a 4 week course with each week consisting of lectures, demonstrations, videotapes, and book assignments. After a completion of 160 hours, drivers are then prepared for the all-important Road Exam. After obtaining their Commercial License Permit, U Matter’s volunteer instructors offer them training during the week and weekends. U Matter also prepares its students with study preparation and materials going into permit testing which is offered at local DMV locations.

 

UMatter also serves as the umbrella organization for the Phelebotomy training academy.

Jacqueline Underwood is also the founder, CEO, and lead instructor of U Matter Academy. While working as a Bachelor’s prepared RN, she became a Phlebotomy instructor. She has trained nurses and phlebotomy students in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.  After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Nursing, she made the decision to open U Matter. U Matter LLC is intended to target students that are unable to attend a traditional college. Courses are short programs that will allow students to work while obtaining a fulfilling career.

 

Charlie Lucas holds a piece of his artwork while posing for picture.

In the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt region, where the land is as rich in culture as it is in soil, a unique artist named Charlie Lucas has been wielding and welding his magic for decades. Lucas’s artistry is deeply rooted in local culture and history, making his work a testament to the region’s spirit and resilience.

 

Lucas, also known as “The Tin Man,” is a self-taught artist who has been creating extraordinary works of art from discarded materials for over three decades. His medium of choice is often discarded metal, which he transforms into intricate sculptures and installations that tell stories of Alabama’s past and present. Though less well known as compared to his sculptural work, Lucas is also a prolific painter, using house paint on canvas and boards to express his vision.

 

His work, characterized by an eclectic mix of materials and themes, is a reflection of his life experiences. From the rusted metal of an old tractor to the worn-out wheels of a car, Lucas sees art where others might see trash. He breathes new life into these discarded items, creating pieces that are not only visually stunning but also carry deep symbolic meanings.

 

Lucas was born and raised in a family of sharecroppers with both immediate and extended family members being skilled craftspeople. His mother and grandmother were quiltmakers and ceramicists. His grandfather and great-grandfather were blacksmiths. Other family members included basket weavers and woodcarvers. Being surrounded and inspired by their talents, Lucas’ interest in arts and crafts sparked at a very early age.

 

During childhood, Lucas spent much time entertaining and making toys for his many siblings. In his 30s Lucas experienced a tragic accident falling off the back of a truck on a construction site, rendering him permanently disabled.  After being bed-ridden for almost three years, he aided his recovery through art.  He has coined his artistic process as “recycling himself” and his figures composed of recycled materials underscore this deeply personal process. Lucas likes to infuse his art with the playfulness of toys that encourage  conversational interaction and can convey a sense of friendliness, open dialogue, and social unity though communication.  Communication through art is key for Lucas who grew up with dyslexia, hampering his ability to read (which he eventually overcame) and forcing him to rely heavily on visual and aural ways to express himself.

 

Lucas’s talent and dedication have led him to be recognized as one of the most significant artists in Alabama. His work has been exhibited across the United States, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. A few of the notable exhibits that have shown Mr. Lucas’s work include:  The High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, 1988 Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time; The Michael C. Carlos Museum during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art of the South; The Birmingham Museum of Art, 1995, Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-Taught Art and The Birmingham Museum of Art, 2008, Charlie Lucas: The World Through My Eyes; Venice during the 2011 Venice Biennale, The Roots of the Spirit. Mr. Lucas’s work remains in the permanent collection of The High Museum.

 

Simply put, Charlie Lucas is more than just an artist; he’s a storyteller, a historian, and a BOLD symbol of resilience.

 

Find out More About Charlie Lucas and His Inspiring Body of Work: