Jackson Street M.B.C. unveils historic marker

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, July 21, 2018

The members of Jackson Street Missionary Baptist Church honored the church’s founders Saturday, unveiling a state commemorative plaque designating the church as national historic landmark and honoring its place on the National Register of Historic Places.

About 50 people attended the Saturday morning program at the church.

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The ceremony also included a presentation of a state resolution honoring the church presented to church pastor the Rev. Trollers Moore by District 55 Rep. Oscar Denton.

Moore called the ceremony “the day that we stand on the shoulders of those giants who helped mold and shaped this church into what it is today. We’re so humbled, we are thankful, we are grateful. This has certainly been a journey but it was worth it all. … We can unveil this marker in honor of all who served here at the Jackson Street Baptist Church.”

Longtime church member Shirley Harris outlined the church’s history, adding, “The city of Vicksburg serves as a major historical point that will forever be marked in the molding of our country.

“Today, we commemorate the noteworthy significance of Jackson Street Missionary Baptist Church and why we have crafted a page in the history of our city and state. Jackson Street is known as one of the stellar churches in the African American community.”

The church, she said, was organized 130 years ago in April 1888 by the Rev. A.A. Hamilton and 75 people at the Golden Rule Hall, a masonic lodge at Clay and Locust streets. The first pastor was the Rev. A.M. Johnson.

Ground was broken for the church in July 1899 on a lot at Jackson Street and Second North Street bought for $1,000. Construction began in1901, and the congregation occupied the uncompleted building in 1905.

E. J. Allen, an African American from Scranton, Pennsylvania, designed the church and oversaw its construction.

“African Americans not only designed the church; it was built by African Americans,” Harris said.

The church, she said, served as the backdrop for the funeral service from the film “Mississippi Burning,” which was filmed in front of the church and in the sanctuary.

“The first vacation Bible school for African American communities was held at the church. Jackson Street had the first women’s day program and there was a Head Start held at the church,” she said.

“Jackson Street had a model Sunday school, Baptist young people’s union, a benevolent society and block carnivals for youth.”

More than a church

Nancy Bell, president of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, who helped the church get the national designation, said the church was one of 1,111 new listings for national register designation in 2017.

“This has been a long journey to get where we are today and I’m glad to be here for it,” she said. “You can’t just fill out a form and ask for the building to be listed,” she said, outlining the process involved in acquiring the designation that includes proving the historic and architectural significance of the building.

“You’re right to place your mark in history,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “You have two markers; a marker of holy ground and a marker of hallowed ground, because of the fact that you mark your history right here in the city of Vicksburg.

“Forever it will be hallowed ground to represent your rich history. You’ve always been more than a church, you’ve gone outside the church with outreach programs. You’ve done what you’ve been called to do. Continue to build your legacy, build not only your members, but continue to build this house of God.”

Brother Rogers of the Department of Archives and History told the congregation the marker was more than just a sign.

“This will be in the ground long after you and I are gone,” he said. “The marker program designates places so that when we’re gone, people who come after us will realize, ‘Somebody thought this was really special; I need to know why.’

“If you’re in a city as historic as Vicksburg, and you’re able to standout with your history, wow, congratulations.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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