The public dedication and unveiling ceremony for the marker begins at 11 a.m., Saturday, February 8, in the church sanctuary and then the sign will be unveiled at its location on the south side of the church in a parking lot at 236 Harrison Street, Petersburg.
Speakers at the event will include representatives of the church, the Cameron Foundation, sponsor of the marker, and the Department of Historic Resources. Elected officials from state, local, and city governments will also participate, as well as the superintendent of Petersburg’s public schools.
Here’s text of the marker:
First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church, one of the nation’s oldest African American congregations, traces its origins to 1756, when worshipers known as New Lights began meeting outside Petersburg. The congregation moved to the city about 1820 and opened a sanctuary here in 1863. After the building burned in 1866 during a wave of arson targeting Petersburg’s black churches, the present sanctuary was built in the Romanesque style and dedicated in 1872. Peabody High School originated in the church in 1870. During the Civil Rights Movement, First Baptist was a center for community organization. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here in 1962 at a regional meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.