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Historic Tabernacle BaptistChurch play video

We haven't really told the story to our children, that there was just so much that happened before the bridge. That there was a beginning, there was a foundation, there was underground work. There were people, everyday working people, who made sacrifices for the bridge to happen.

- Dr. Verdell Lett Dawson


Historic Tabernacle Baptist Church

Tabernacle Baptist was organized in 1884 for Selma University students, faculty and emerging middle-class Negroes. The church’s ministers and members were leaders in pioneering and enduring African-American Baptist organizations, including Rev. Dr. D. V. Jemison, who served as president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Tabernacle Baptist is the sole U.S. church from which have come four presidents and three general secretaries of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Its ministers and congregation were also active in the Civil Rights Movement. At the request of Bernard Lafayette Jr. (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Organizer) and Mrs. Amelia Boynton (Civil Rights Activist), Pastor Louis Lloyd Anderson opened the doors of Tabernacle in May 1963 to start The Voting Rights Movement. Tabernacle was the site of the memorial service for long-time civil rights activist Mr. Samuel Boynton and the first mass meeting of The Voting Rights Movement. Members Rev. John D. Hunter and Mrs. Marie Foster were two of the “Courageous Eight,” the steering committee for the Dallas County Voters League who invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma in 1964. Member Dr. Sullivan Jackson and his wife hosted Dr. King and staff in their home. Continuing the Tabernacle relationship with the Boynton Family, Tabernacle was the site of the homegoing service for Mrs. Amelia Boynton-Robinson in 2016.

Tabernacle Baptist is also nationally significant for its Classical Revival Architecture, executed by African-American architect David T. West, a congregation member, in 1922.

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Map & Information

Tabernacle Baptist Church

1431 Broad St., Selma, AL 36701
(334) 874-9443

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Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday

by Spider Martin