A Project for Students and Citizens

Hobson City: Week One

In Hobson City on May 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Marian Royston is living democracy in Hobson City, Alabama.  Originally from Roanoke, Alabama, she is a senior majoring in history at Auburn University. Living Democracy is a yearlong collaboration between students and citizens on issues that matter to local communities.

My first week in Hobson City was full of unexpected, yet wonderful experiences. I thought I would hit the ground running with the community needs assessment when I arrived, but instead, the project began at a much slower pace. Fortunately, this afforded me the opportunity to get out into the community and learn more about the people and places that make this place so special. I spent much of my week working with and speaking to individuals who live and work in Hobson City; moreover, they all have a great love for the town. From these encounters, I was able to gain vital insight into the heartbeat of the community.

My exploration of Hobson City took me to civic places, organizational meetings and private homes. Every experience left me with a new impression of the tiny municipality. Everyone I spoke with all possessed the same love for their community and sincere hope for a vibrant future.  These conversations led me to understand the lifeblood of Hobson City, which has helped the town survive through the duration of its tough history. The key to its past, present and future is simple: pride.  The pride that Hobson City’s citizens have in their home is strong, and it has created a loyalty that will help fuel the community and economic development process.

One of the most unique characteristics of Hobson City is its rich history, and everywhere I’ve been this week, I have heard pieces of Hobson City’s story. As the first town in Alabama founded solely by African Americans, the townspeople have plenty to talk about. Everyone I spoke with to this week was more than willing to share with me their memories of the town’s past with me. One such individual was Mrs. Katie Pyles, who is a third generation Hobson City native. She sat down with me Friday morning and shared some interesting tidbits about the town history.  Mrs. Pyles was even kind enough to lend me some historical artifacts. Her pride in her home made her happy to share with me. When others in town found out about my interest in Hobson City’s history, they were more than willing to lend me information.

Of course with a rich, unique history comes unique traditions and Hobson City has one very wonderful community tradition. Historically, May Day was a way for the town to celebrate the end of a school term and usher in the summer season. Over time, town stopped observing the annual tradition, but thanks to the efforts of the Hobson City Community and Economic Development Corporation (HCCEDC), Hobson City had its 5th Annual May Day on Saturday, and I was fortunate enough to attend. The event brought out families from the community for a day filled with fun, games, food, music and lots of fellowship. The entire event had the atmosphere of a big family reunion, and for those in town, I believe that’s exactly what it was. Former residents came home just for May Day, and they were all happy to be there.

I believe that my time in Hobson City will be an experience that I cherish for the rest of my life. My first week was full of enlightening experiences that led me all over town. The more I learn, the more I fully understand how special the place is, not only in the heart of its citizens but also to the state of Alabama. I look forward seeing how the connections I made this week pan out through the rest of the summer. It is my hope that the relationships I’ve made will only grow stronger, and that these people will be of help through the community assessment process. It all comes back to pride, and I’m definitely proud to be here.

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