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Honoring Black History With Historic First Baptist Church

In African American History, ‘The Church’ has long been the center of black communities. In Jackson, one African American church was established a few years after the emancipation proclamation and has impacted this city ever since.

“Well, the church was officially organized in 1868,” said William Watson, the pastor at Historic First Historic Baptist Church.

The original name was the First Colored Baptist Church. Once the enslaved members gained their freedom, they broke away from their original worship place to build their own.

“Our history is derived from the First Baptist Church that is on highland. Our ancestors, those who were slaves of those at that church who worshipped there. After the emancipation proclamation, they were able to foster and form a church,” said Watson.

And according to pastor Watson, slavery could not stop the founding members from congregating.

“It is said though, when they were still under those mandatory laws of slavery, that they still met, possibly out in the field or out in someone’s home,” said Watson.

Deacon Milton Davis has been a member for nearly 60 years and joined when he was about 12 years old. He says he and his best friend became a member on a Friday night during revival week.

“Friday night was the night everybody normally joined. so he and I, we confessed our faith and got baptized.”

Davis is now the deacon board chairman and says one of the most significant milestones was moving into their new building on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It was a celebration as people in the community came to witness the transition.

“And that was a momentous day as we had members from the society, the community, and other churches join us in that march from that church on allem street to this sanctuary.”

This spring, Historic First Baptist Church will celebrate its 153 Anniversary. Over the last century, they’ve seen their members and community thrive.

“The black church has been the fort, the bastion of hope, the joy of the African American population. We try to help people find jobs. We try to make sure we keep roofs over heads, food on tables, clothes on backs. Those are some of the things this ministry has done but we’ve amped up a little bit.

Over the years, the church evolved using technology. With the use of live streamings, they’ve reached audiences all over the world. Even during a pandemic, their ministry continues to help the community.

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