First African Baptist Church was established in 1867 and is the oldest African American church in the City of Dublin GA. The current building was built in 1914 after the original wooden church was torn down.
Where a Child Became a Legend
Capture a glimpse into the child that became a legend of the Civil Rights movement. On April 17, 1944, the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia held their state convention at First African Baptist Church in Dublin and sponsored an essay contest. A 15 year old student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta delivered a speech entitled “The Negro and the Constitution.” Little did the audience realize they were witnessing the first public speech by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
The speech detailed the struggle for true equality, ending with the quote, “My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I, with my with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon- a Negro-and yet a man!”
On the return trip to Atlanta from Dublin, young Martin L. King was asked, for the first time in his young life, to relinquish his bus seat and stand in the rear of the bus with his teacher. King initially refused the demand, but was later convinced by his teacher to give up his seat.
Carrying on the Dream
Today, the church hosts an annual oratorical contest to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to continue his legacy of peaceable activism, humanitarianism, and leadership.
Beginning in 2014, Dublin began a community effort to construct a monument commemorating Dr. King’s historic first speech at First African Baptist Church. That dream took on a life all its own, resulting in a project that attracted 207 donors, contributors, and doers. Read more on the projects, the partners and the dreams here.
Take the First Step
Completed in 2018, Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park and First African Baptist Church were transformed, creating an artistic gateway for downtown Dublin.
A sculpture crafted by local Dublin artist, Juan Lleras, stands at the church entrance, calling to new generations to carry on King’s legacy of peaceable activism. By incorporating architectural details of the church, the sculpture marks First African Baptist Church as the location where King first spoke, doves take flight calling visitors to dream, hope, and move towards building change by gathering their talents and taking a stand, carrying King’s message of equality, togetherness, and unity. King watches as future generations speak in one voice, with one heart, as one people.
Dublin’s role in the Civil Rights Movement continued over the years as Dr. King and other leaders like Andrew Young, Reverend Abernathy, and Maynard Jackson would return to Dublin’s Dudley Motel where they could rest, eat, refuel, and plan action during the Civil Rights Movement.
Step into the role of a Civil Rights leader during One Day: Dublin’s Civil Rights Experience. This live action play puts you in the heart of the history, and tells the story of Mr. Hub Dudley, owner of Dudley Motel and friend to Civil Rights leaders. Perfect for groups, this experience draws on Georgia’s deep Civil Rights history, puts you in the heart of the action. and catapults Dublin into the spotlight as the place where the Civil Rights Movement not only began, but was planned.
Tours of First African Baptist Church are available by appointment. A plaque commemorating the speech is available for viewing on the exterior. Sunday morning worship service is at 10:45 AM.
For more information or to book your experience, call 478-272-4002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Footsteps of MLK Trail
Take a walk through the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia with Georgia Tourism’s Footsteps of MLK Trail. Announced April 9th, 2018, Georgia’s Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Trail, was created in partnership with The King Center and was launched as part of the memorial service commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death. Dublin has two stops on the trail: First African Baptist Church and Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park.