An audience filled the Bell Conference Center on March 14 to observe the annual Black Belt Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
The Black Belt Hall of Fame recognizes individuals that are associated with the Black Belt region that have greatly contributed to the area through business, education, law, art or other significant areas of study.
Betty Craft Banks, Dr. Billie Jean Young and the late Ruby Pickens Tartt were the elite inductees.
Betty Craft Banks was among the first female nurse anesthetists in Alabama.
She is a native of Pickens County and an alumna of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Banks served as State Nurse for 20 years after being appointed by Governor George Wallace.
Banks’s job did not stop at the hospital doors. She provided anesthetist services on her off days to the rural Black Belt counties.
Aside from nursing, Banks started the Green County Independent newspaper in 1986. The paper has won several awards and is still being printed today.
Dr. Billie Jean Young was also among the group of inductees.
Young was born in Choctaw County and went on to be one of the first African Americans to graduate from Judson College.
Young is considered a jack of all trades. She has written poems, children’s books and historical plays.
She is best known for “Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light.” The one-woman show is an inspirational story of Fannie Lou Hamer‘s life. Hamer was a civil rights activist from Mississippi.
Young used this playwright to pin point the economic challenges that affected the Black Belt area.
The late Ruby Pickens Tartt concluded the list of inductees.
Tartt was a native of Livingston, Ala. She received her education at the Livingston Female Academy and attended Alabama State Normal College.
Tartt is known for her attribution to the music collections of the Library of Congress.
She is also known for her discovery of legendary folk singer, Vera Hall.
Tartt served as a librarian for 24 years and now has a library named in her honor.
Banks, Young and Tartt have shaped parts of the Black Belt region over the years with their positive efforts.
These three individuals have impacted not only the region itself, but the lives of people who have been affected by their generosity and courageousness.
The Black Belt Hall of Fame welcomes Betty Craft Banks, Dr. Billie Jean Young and the late Ruby Pickens Tartt.