March for Moral Justice: It Began at Bethel
Location: 29TH AND 33RD North From Historic Bethel to New Bethel
The anchor institution at the center of any community of African Americans was, and still is, the Black church. Their unique interpretation of Bible stories, Christian faith and gospel music gave them hope, encouragement, self-esteem and value in a society that gave them the opposite. The church provided a necessary shelter in a time of storm. And it provided collective power to address physical and spiritual needs. Through the church, they built schools, banks, insurance companies, welfare societies and fraternal organizations. They also built a movement to be free and equal in American society, particularly after World War II. Church leaders, because they were economically independent, could act more fearlessly on behalf of their congregations. Thus Black churches formed the institutional and cultural backbone of the civil rights movement. And the most prominent church in terms of the Birmingham Movement was Bethel Baptist Church, through its fiery pastor, Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth. Thus, Bethel Baptist is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.