First Baptist Church

Location: 347 North Ripley St., Montgomery, Ala.
Significance: Acted as a safe haven for Freedom Riders

As the name indicates, First Baptist Church was one of Montgomery's first black churches. Nearly a century later, it would beome one of the Civil Right's Movement's most important locations. Activist Ralph Abernathy served as pastor from 1952 to 1961, while his friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., presided over nearby Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. First Baptist served as a safe haven for Freedom Riders during the spring of 1961, and on May 21, the packed building was attacked by 3,000 angry whites who wanted to burn it to the ground. Bricks and tear gas were thrown through windows, prompting Dr. King to call Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his brother, President John F. Kennedy, to have the National Guard safely escort everyone from the church after having spent an uncomfortable night there. The church is recognized on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage by the Alabama Historical Commission.