First Baptist Church

Introduction

First Baptist Church, led from 1949 to 1980 by the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, served as the spiritual and tactical center for the civil rights movement in Farmville. On April 25, 1951, two days after the Moton students commenced their strike, Barbara Johns and fellow organizers met with NAACP attorneys Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson in the basement of First Baptist. There students convinced the attorneys to take their case, contingent on their parents' approval and on the condition that the case would not simply ask the county to stop discriminating against the students but challenge the constitutionality of segregation in public education. On May 3, 1951, the community packed First Baptist Church for a mass meeting where they enthusiastically supported the students in their case. In 1963, Rev. Griffin and First Baptist Church again supported young people in organizing the boycott of downtown stores and direct action protests that summer.

Photo: VCU Libraries


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