West Alabama residents make their case for broadband

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Nick Balenger

A new broadband grant from Governor Kay Ivey is helping underserved areas get internet. People came to Stillman College’s roundtable from all across West Alabama to express their concerns.

The Student Freedom Initiative is a non-profit group working to close the digital divide within the black community. The group views HBCU’s as an economic hub for rural parts of Alabama.

The initiative plans to write a proposal in an effort to get some of the money from Governor Ivey’s grant and bring internet to under-served parts of the community. To do so, the group requires community input to help plead West Alabama’s case.

Some West Alabama residents said they have felt neglected and hope Stillman College can help.

“The state of Alabama has not treated the Black Belt fairly for the last 100 years or more,” said Greene county resident John Zippert. “We really need some independent advice, and that’s why I was asking Stillman College to think about being independent advisors to us, to make sure we get a fair deal from broadband from the state of Alabama.”

Zippert, along with others, does not believe the government is doing enough to help people like them, and they are apprehensive about a change for the better.

Student Freedom Initiative executive director Mark Brown promised they are here to help.

“We view broadband no longer as a necessity, but rather we view it as the same way that you might view electricity or running water,” Brown said. “That in order for a community to participate in things as necessary for life as telehealth, to search for a job, those kinds of things. Or to receive education the way education is delivered here in the 21st century, broadband is required.”

The grant requires community input so you can fill out a survey here https://studentfreedominitiativeinc.my.site.com/s/




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