Looking back: Pleasant Green Baptist Church has had many homes, always with the community as its heart

Published 2:26 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Pleasant Green Baptist Church – In 1967, a group of members of King Solomon Baptist Church broke away from King Solomon to form a new church, Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist. Its initial location was on Pearl Street and then shortly before 1869, the congregation built a new church in Klein’s Bottom. This building was destroyed by a storm and another was soon built.

In June 1889, the congregation was raising funds for the construction of a new church to be built on Magnolia, now called Bowman Street. The Daily Commercial Herald reported that “It affords the Pleasant Green Baptist Church much pleasure to thank our many friends, both white and colored, for aiding us to take up the sum of $490.85 with which we have purchased a
lot in part payment. The lot is situated on Magnolia Street, and was purchased from Mr. John D. Reid for $1,000.”

The Herald also reported in an article about new buildings in August 1890, that the frame building was under construction.

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Unfortunately, the new church was completely destroyed by a fire on July 1, 1891 and the congregation held services in the hall behind the church for almost ten years until the new brick Gothic Revival church was completed. The building was most likely occupied by July 24, 1901, as an article in the Vicksburg Herald stated that the church, along with a number of other buildings, was damaged during high winds, the west wall crushed in, according to the paper. Another article in the Vicksburg Herald reported about a new schoolhouse on Magnolia Street that was finished in December 1902, stating that the new school is located on “Magnolia Avenue, beyond what is colloquially known as Pleasant Green church, a structure which took as long in building as Solomon’s temple.”

The congregation of Pleasant Green Church has a long tradition of helping others in the community, which is evidenced by a letter to the editor in the Vicksburg Evening Post on May 2, 1912, reporting that church members had rented a house on Pearl
Street for women who had been displaced by flooding of the Mississippi River. The letter stated that the congregation had also “given over two wagon loads of clothes and groceries for the relief of the sufferers.”

On July 23, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the church while on a five-day trip through Mississippi that included visits to Jackson, Greenwood, and Meridian, in addition to Vicksburg.

The Vicksburg Evening Post reported “Dr. Martin Luther King led a rally here Thursday night in support of the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi. King, an integration leader and head of the Southern Christian Council of Atlanta, is promoting the new party in an attempt to unseat the regular Democratic Party of Mississippi at the National Convention. He
spoke before a large crowd at the Pleasant Green Baptist Church on Bowman Street. Also on the program was Rev. Ralph Abernathy, an assistant to King. John Lewis, director of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was also with King.”

Pleasant Green Baptist Church remains an architecturally and historically significant building in Vicksburg.

Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation