Black History would not be fully realized without the founding of the Black Church. Tuscaloosa has many African American churches that were founded and established and still exist today because of brave men and women who established these churches. During Black History Month, I decided to highlight some historical roots of local African American churches.
First African Baptist Church:
The First African Baptist Church was established in 1866 and the present church was built in 1907. In August 1963, Rev. T. Y. Rogers, Jr. was called to the pastorate of the church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the sermon at his installation service. Rev. Rogers led the Civil Rights movement in Tuscaloosa and organized Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee. The city of Tuscaloosa played its key roles from this church where civil eights meetings were held in the church and protest marches started there. “Bloody Tuesday” events started at the church which was heavily damaged by police and white extremists. The church is a stop on the Civil Rights Trail in Tuscaloosa as well. I have preached there myself in 2009 and I encourage you to visit.
Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church:
The Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church was founded in December 1880 as the Salem Presbyterian Church. The church founded in 1880 by Rev. Dr. Charles Stillman and to this day they continue their relationship with Stillman College. The Black members of the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa wanted to have their own church and were assisted in this effort by Dr. Charles A. Stillman, the pastor. The first church building was erected on 9th St. and 30th Ave. in 1882. The church presently sits on the campus of Stillman College off of Stillman Blvd.
Hunter's Chapel AME Zion Church
The Hunters Chapel AME Zion CHurch was organized in 1866, the first black Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa. Its first house of worship was a rented building that stood where Bryant-Denny Stadium now stands today. The first structure built by the church was completed in 1878. The church was orginally a school for children of freed slaves during the Reconstruction era. The present structure was erected in 1881. The church is a beautiful wonder in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church:
The Pleasant Grove Baptist Church was organized around 1870 near the banks of the Black Warrior River, "The Grove" was the first Baptist church begun by African Americans in Tuscaloosa's Big Bend community. Former slaves comprised the original congregation. Early services were held in the homes of members and in brush arbors. The congregation grew quickly and eventually divided into two bodies: Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church and Beautiful Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. For a time, the two churches visited each other for worship services on alternate Sundays; Beautiful Zion led services on the first and third Sunday and the Grove led them on the second and fourth Sunday.
Bethel Baptist Church:
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1881, with the Reverend Delaware Jackson, a local citizen of Tuscaloosa, as the organizer and first pastor. A local housing community was named after him. The church was located at Castle Hill, on the north side of the Birmingham Highway near the intersection of what is now 6th Avenue, East. The church recently built their new facility under the direction of current pastor Schmitt Moore.
Go visit these historical churches this year in your spare time and soak in the history!21 Tuscaloosa Spots to Visit in 2021
21 Tuscaloosa Spots to Visit in 2021