Second Baptist Church
USINFO | 2013-05-03 14:33

Second Baptist Church located at 441 Monroe Street within Greektown in Detroit, Michigan is the oldest African-American church in the Midwestern United States. It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1974 listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The church was organized in March 1836 by 13 former slaves who left the First Baptist Church due to discrimination. Second Baptist was Detroit's seventh major church. With Canada's border only a few miles away, the Second Baptist Church quickly undertook the mission of helping free slaves and constructed a room under the sanctuary where escaping slaves stayed until they could continue their journey. Church leaders assisted in creating the Amherstburg Baptist Association and the Canadian Anti-Slavery Baptist Association, both of which were abolitionist groups in Canada. From its founding until the end of the Civil War, the church served as a "station" on the Underground Railroad, hosting some 5,000 slaves before their eventual departure to Canada.

Second Baptist also opened the city's first school for black children in 1839, and in 1843 and 1865 hosted a "State Convention of Colored Citizens" to petition the Michigan government for Negro Suffrage. Ralph Bunche, who later became the first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was baptized in the church. Second Baptist was instrumental in the formation of over 30 other African-American churches.
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