“Brick a Day” First Baptist Church


First Baptist

at 347 North Ripley, was organized in 1866 as an offspring of the First Baptist now located on South Perry Street, at which these founders worshiped as slaves. This church hosted the first baccalaureate service for Alabama State (then State Normal) in 1890. Fire destroyed their building ca 1910, and this Romanesque Revival edifice was built using brick supplied each day by members from construction sites all over the city. By 1916 the Brick-a-Day had 5,000 members, making it the largest black congregation in America. During the 1960s Ralph Abernathy was pastor here, and under his leadership the church played a major role in civil rights activities of that decade. In 1961 the “Freedom Riders” took refuge in the building after being chased by an angry mob, when 400 US Marshalls were unable to restore order. The “Riders” were finally freed by US Attorney General Robert Kennedy who federalized the Alabama National Guard.

-Charles Humphries

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