Zion Baptist Church, Louisville
Backstory and Context
Zion Baptist Church was organized on Thursday, August 8, 1878. Due to growing membership, the church purchased this building and dedicated their new sanctuary on December 9, 1928. The new space offered an auditorium, chapel, dining hall, kitchen, and educational building along with 38 rooms. On November 11, 1956, thirteen white citizens joined the church making Zion Baptist the first interracial church in the state of Kentucky since before the Civil War when slaves often accompanied their masters to church.
In 1965, Zion Baptist hired a new pastor, Reverend Alfred Daniels William King. The younger brother of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend King started the Kentucky chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Kentucky chapter was known as the Kentucky Christian Leadership Council. Reverend A. D. fought urban renewal programs that threatened to disrupt the continuity of the black community and and sought for open housing ordinances that would help African Americans.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined his brother and delivered a sermon from the pulpit of Zion. Upon the assassination of his brother, Reverend A.D. King moved to Atlanta to serve as a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Zion Baptist Church was not only a place of praise and worship, but it was the home base for the growing change that the civil rights movement was bringing forth. The congregation's pastors such as W.H. Craighead, H.D. Cockerham Alfred Daniels King, and others not only administered to the religious needs of the community but served as leaders during the 20th century fight for equal rights.
Self Guided Tour of Louisville's Civil Rights History. Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. Accessed July 17, 2017. https://louisville.edu/braden/oral-history-tours-exhibits/civil-rights-driving-tour.