Selma in Dallas County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Tabernacle Baptist Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church was founded in 1885, and in March of that year, the congregation purchased this site. Built in 1922 under the leadership of Dr. David Vivian Jemison, the current church features bricks from the original church building on the south and west elevations. Designed by African-American architect and Tabernacle member David T. West, this building is the most formidable Classic Revival design of any African-American institution in Selma from the Jim Crow era. With a multi-colored stained glass clerestory shining light down on the huge open interior, Tabernacle was the most architecturally compelling space Selma's African-Americans could experience for most of the twentieth century. The decision by West and the congregation to situate the church on the corner of Minter Avenue and Broad Street, with a monumental classical-style façade facing Broad, was a concession to the bitter Jim crow ethos of the time. As it also had a "separate but equal" entrance on Minter Avenue the congregation could actually use. Tabernacle continues to be a leader for Christian influence and social justice.
Upon the death of Dallas County Voter's League stalwart Sam Boynton in May 1963, Amelia Boynton and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee activists Bernard and Colia Lafayette wanted to use his memorial service as a vehicle for voting rights activism. Many African-American churches did not want the service in their buildings out of a justified fear of reprisals by the white community. Rev. Louis Lloyd Robinson, Tabernacle's pastor from 1954-1968, volunteered Tabernacle for the memorial service, which upset Tabernacle's deacons. He refused to change his mind, and threatened he would hold the service on the sidewalk if they did not allow him to use the church. Thus, Selma's first voting rights mass meeting was held at Tabernacle on May 14, 1963. After this initial meeting, mass meetings in churches became a foundation strategy for the Civil Rights Movement in Selma. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at Tabernacle in October 1963, updating Selma on the courageous struggle in Birmingham. On February 16, 1968, Dr. King returned to Tabernacle to address a mass meeting in support of his Poor People's Campaign and its planned march on Washington, D.C.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Churches & Religion • Civil Rights.
Location. 32° 25.181′ N, 87° 1.463′ W. Marker is in Selma, Alabama, in Dallas County. Marker is at the intersection of Broad Street (Business U.S. 80) and Minter Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Broad Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1431 Broad Street, Selma AL 36701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Tabernacle Baptist Church (a few steps from this marker); Last Stronghold Falls (approx. ¼ mile away); John Tyler Morgan House (approx. half a mile away); R.B. Hudson High School (approx. half a mile away); White - Force Cottage (approx. half a mile away); Ware - Baker - Jones House (approx. half a mile away); Mabry - Jones Home (approx. half a mile away); A Grassroots Movement (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Selma.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. National Register of Historic Places Program. (Submitted on March 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Dedication and Unveiling of Historic Markers at Tabernacle Baptist Church (Blog)(Submitted on March 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 505 times since then and 37 times this year. Last updated on May 24, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.