By Nathan Simone / COMMUNITY REPORTER
The Hobson City Community & Economic Development Corporation (HCCEDC) celebrated a renewed spirit for Hobson City’s future with a gala fundraiser Friday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Anniston City Meeting Center that included a speech by Living Democracy alum Marian Royston.
The gala sought to highlight the work of the HCCEDC since its inception in 2007, particularly the completion of the newly-renovated J.R. Striplin Park, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, May 25.
Eric Stringer and Bernard Snow, president and vice president of HCCEDC, are Hobson City natives and the sons of former mayors of Hobson City. According to them, the mission of the HCCEDC is to improve the place where they grew up and hope to always return to.
“This nonprofit organization is in place to help the mayor, the council and the citizens move Hobson City forward,” said Stringer during his welcome address. “It’s our job to help.”
Auburn University alum and former Living Democracy student Marian Royston presented her honors thesis to guests later in the evening during the “comments from community partners” section of the evening, after a short introduction by Dr. Mark Wilson, director of Community and Civic Engagement at Auburn University.
Royston’s thesis dealt with exploring the history of the creation and incorporation Hobson city, specifically how unique it was for an entirely African-American city to be founded only years before the Alabama state constitution was amended to take away most of their rights to self-govern.
“How in the world could a group of black people found a town only years before a constitution was born that took away the right of blacks to vote in the entire state?,” Royston asked the crowd in her introduction.
Royston went on to explain the psychology of white supremacy that took hold of the state shortly afterward, and the shrewd, observant and sometimes daring tactics utilized by the leaders of Hobson City to succeed and stay relevant in an era that stacked all odds against African-Americans to fail and stay disenfranchised from the majority populace.
Royston is one of 12 Mitchell scholars nationwide and will study rural community development abroad in Northern Ireland this September, but is committed to returning to Alabama to work on community building in her home state.
Local sponsors for the event included ABS systems, Alabama Power Company, Auto Custom Carpets, Mr. Don Whitlow, Eastman, Fabarc Steel Company, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Food Ingredient Technology Company (FITCO), H. P. & G. Associates, J. A. Dawson & Company, Noble Bank, RMC Foundation, Roberts Law Firm and Rodney Turner & Associates.
The gala was the first in what HCCEDC hopes to make an annual event.