The future of the Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church is bright, and not simply as a museum or historic site. There are many ways the church will once again become a vital element in the community.
We have plans to construct a plaza on the west side of the building that will pay homage to leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and also present information about the movement. Inside the church, we will have displays and information about the movement, a bookstore dedicated to social issues and history, and we will welcome musicians, dancers, speakers, and artists (to name a few) to entertain and educate visitors on a regular basis.
There are many important stories to tell in the church. This is where Dr. King and Dr. Abernathy gave the word for Hosea Williams to begin the march in Selma on Bloody Sunday. It is where strategic planning sessions were conducted and students readying for Mississippi’s Freedom Summer were trained in non-violence techniques.
There are many other personal stories to be told, but the message will extend beyond the movement to teach how the lessons of Dr. Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement participants can be used in today’s world.
Dr. Abernathy’s time here was never limited to the present – his goal and his actions were to work so all people could have a better life. Even after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the church became a key organizing place for the Poor People’s Campaign and other activities directed at helping people.
The church was more than a place of Sunday worship. During the 1960s there were very few places open to groups organizing civil rights activities, but the Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church was just such a place. Under Dr. Abernathy’s leadership, it served as a sanctuary, a beacon where people would come and go freely, constantly working on the movement goals.
We will again bring vitality to the church, creating a center for community activities, inspiration and coming together. With visiting speakers, musicians, performing artists and relevant displays, the Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church will pay homage to the past while bringing purposeful activity back into the community. The plaza is meant as a community amenity to be enjoyed at all times. Inside there will be events to honor the past and bring people together for the future.
Please join our Abernathy Center community to receive updates on our progress and plans for the future!