Category: History

Friendship and Grace

Atlanta has a unique story to tell at Friendship Baptist Church. Founded in 1866 by former slaves, Friendship was home to the first African-American Baptist congregation in Atlanta. Too poor to afford a church building, the first congregants of Friendship met in a donated boxcar, which they shared as a classroom space with African-American students seeking a higher education. Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College, now part of the largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities in the U.S., all trace their beginnings back to Friendship. Friendship is seen as the “Mother Church” of nine other houses of worship in and around Atlanta, including Wheat Street Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue, now part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District. The church has inspired generations of civic leaders, including Maynard Jackson, Jr., the first African-American to serve as mayor of a major southern city. Jackson moved to Atlanta in 1945, when his father, the Reverend Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Sr., was called to be the pastor at Friendship. The reverend’s son grew up in the church, and at 14, enrolled at Morehouse College, where he graduated four years later. In 1973, Maynard Jackson, Jr. was elected mayor of Atlanta, and would lead the city to unprecedented success in culture and commerce. Friendship offers a unique view of how Atlanta’s historically black churches and schools played a...

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