First African Baptist Church

First African Baptist Church First African Baptist Church
Photograph courtesy of the Alabama Historical Commission
This church's pastor, Rev. T.Y. Rogers, Jr., and the local community led a successful campaign against segregation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In late spring 1964, the new county courthouse put up "whites only" signs in front of the bathrooms. Irate black citizens formed the Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee, headed by Rev. Rogers, to challenge racially discriminatory practices. The church became demonstration headquarters and the site of many local rallies and marches. A climactic June 9 rally outside First African Baptist forced the local segregation issue into federal courts. The rally was staged to test a local ban on protest marches and took place during the 75-day filibuster of the Civil Rights Bill by southern senators. Tuscaloosa's police commissioner arrested Rev. Rogers after he refused to call off the rally. Then police charged into the crowd, pushing it back into the church. Later, hoping to force the protestors outside where they could be easily arrested, police sprayed fire hoses and hurled tear gas through the church windows. Ninety-one protestors were jailed. The violent incident spurred action on several pending and subsequent court cases. On June 26, a federal judge ordered Tuscaloosa County to remove the offensive courthouse signs, citing the 14th Amendment right to be free of "discrimination of any kind in the use and enjoyment of publicly-owned facilities."

The First African Baptist is located at 2621 9th Street in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tours are available daily by appointment. For more information call 205-758-2833

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