Hobson City, the oldest Black city in Alabama, might be a small town but used to be a thriving epicenter of African-American culture. Now, it’s besieged by empty homes, schools and businesses, according to the Associated Press. There is no police or fire department and it has caused preservationist to want to put Hobson City back on the map. The Alabama Historical Commission included the town that is still home to 878 people on its annual inventory of “Places in Peril” this month.

Incorporated in 1899, Hobson City was once governed by all African-Americans residents who were forced out of slavery or neighboring towns. The town grew to about 1,500 people in the mid-1900’s with its own schools, restaurants and even a skating rink. Federal money helped to keep the town afloat in the 1960’s and 1970’s. But the end of segregation ironically started the town’s spiral downhill as Black residents suddenly had more choices of where to live.

Two civic groups are currently raising money to keep the town afloat.—WLW