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BOOK REVIEW Churches of the Alabama Black Belt: Monroe County

BY MOLLIE S. WATERS

The Greenville Standard

 

Jackson Knight is a photographer, and his favorite subject is the Alabama Black Belt.

Knight likes to photograph fire lookout towers, rural blight, rotting buildings, and churches.

The last item in that list is the subject of his third book, which is titled “Churches of the Alabama Black Belt: Monroe County.”

The book contains images and brief descriptions of 143 churches throughout Monroe County.

When asked how he got the idea for the book, Knight responded that his love of photography, history, and the outdoors influenced his decision to become an author.

“Last summer I started on a venture to visit all 67 counties in Alabama,” said Knight. “I wanted to document every map dot town I could get to. I have always loved to photograph things like old churches.”

Knight, who has written a blog called “Jackson’s Ramblings: Rambling the Southland and Beyond” for several years, traveled almost 2,000 miles across the southern part of Alabama taking pictures before coming to the decision to focus on just the Black Belt area of the state.

“I started to realize that there was more in the Black Belt than I could cover in a lifetime,” said Knight. “That is when I realigned my focus and started to work on just the Black Belt.”

Once he collected enough images, Knight decided to take the next step into the publishing world.

“I had always wanted to write a book,” said Knight. “I had no clue how to go about getting it published. One night I was watching a YouTube video and saw people on there explaining how to do it on

Amazon.

“I downloaded the templates and took some of my earlier blog posts and made the first

book. It was definitely a learning experience.”

Jackson’s first book is titled “Jackson’s Ramblings Volume One,” and it was published Nov. 19, 2023. His second book is titled “Jackson’s Ramblings Volume Two,” and it was published on Dec. 19, 2023.

“The second one is more of the Black Belt region,” said Knight. “I was working on the church photos all along. I had just been putting the church photos on my website jacksonsramblings.com, under the link Black Belt Churches.

“Some of my friends suggested to me to make some photo books of the churches. I put two or

three different ones together trying to figure out how to do it.”

Knight decided to focus his third book on just Monroe County, which is where he lives in the community of Mexia.

“I did not have time to travel as needed,” said Knight. “I decided to work on Monroe during that time since I could take short day trips to get the photos. Then I could work at home.

“My future goal is to continue county by county in the Black Belt doing the books on the

standing churches. While I am traveling, I will continue to write blogs on whatever catches my

interest.”

Knight says that he is pleased with “Churches of the Alabama Black Belt: Monroe County,” and when asked if he had any favorite churches in the book, he said he had two.

“In Monroe County,” said Knight, “two of my favorite ones are Bell’s Landing Presbyterian, which is on the cover, and Pilgrim Rest which is located in the middle of Red Hills.

“Bell’s Landing because, although I never went to a service there, I played on the steps of it when

I was a little kid. The first picture I ever saw of myself was supposedly there at a wedding when I

was only a few weeks old. I never remember regular services ever being held there.”

He said he likes Pilgrim Rest because it was so hard to get any information about it.

“Pilgrim Rest, which is falling in, was always something of interest to me because it is miles from

anything on dirt roads,” said Knight. “Nobody I talked to for decades could tell me anything about it. One day I found a guy who went to church there as a kid, and I wrote a blog post on it.”

Knight is already working on his next book, but for those interested in obtaining a copy of “Churches in the Alabama Black Belt: Monroe County,” copies can be found on Amazon, but people can also reach out to Knight directly through his social media accounts with Rambling the Alabama Black Belt and through his website https://jacksonsramblings.com/.

The books are $35.

 

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