The Second Baptist Church, featuring subdued Gothic elements, was constructed in 1914
to replace an earlier church building. It continues to house Michigan's first African American
congregation. The congregation was established in 1836, when 13 former slaves decided to
leave the First Baptist Church because of its discriminatory practices. The church quickly
became involved in the period's most bitter dispute--slavery. First meeting at a hall on Fort St,
the congregation moved to the present location in 1857. Just miles away from the freedom that
the Canadian border offered to escaped slaves, the church soon became a stop on the
Underground Railroad. Its leaders helped form the Amherstburg Baptist Association and the
Canadian Anti-Slavery Baptist Association, both of which supported abolitionism. These
organizations aided the ever-increasing number of fugitive slaves fleeing north, both spiritually
and materially. Significant figures in the abolitionist movement were associated with the church,
such as Soujourner Truth, John Brown, and Frederick Douglass. Douglass discussed abolition
with Second Baptist leaders before addressing citizens at the church 1859.
Second Baptist Church of Detroit
Photograph by Daniel Hershberger
The church's activism was not limited to slavery, however. In 1843 and in 1865, it
hosted a "State Convention of Colored Citizens" to petition the Michigan government for Negro
Suffrage. After the Civil War, the church played a vital role in helping thousands of migrating
freed slaves in securing homes and jobs in and around Detroit. The present Second Baptist
Church building replaced the Congregation's first church which was destroyed by fire in 1914.
Two additions, one in 1926, and a second in 1968, flank either side of the building and testify to
the congregation's continued vitality. The Second Baptist Church today remains, as it has been
throughout its history, a source of inspiration and encouragement to its members and neighbors.
The Second Baptist Church is at located at 441 Monroe Street, just east of the intersection of
Gratiot Avenue (US 25) and Woodward Avenue within the Greektown Historic District. The
building is open to the public.
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