Because I live in the Metropolitan Atlanta area, when anyone mentions the name Ebenezer Baptist Church, the only church that enters my mind is the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue. This is the church called America’s Freedom Church that “Daddy King” pastored and served as the spiritual home and home church of his son, Martin Luther King, Jr. However, during my recent travels to Richmond, I learned of another Ebenezer Baptist Church that obviously had a powerful impact on the African-American community. This historic church, on West Leigh Street, made education one if its chief goals and top priorities and accomplished the following:
- Opened the first school for Black children in Richmond, Virginia in 1866.
- Organized Hartshorn Memorial College for African-American women in 1883.
- Helped Found the Richmond Colored Young Men’s Christian Association in 1887
This church is now a historic site and landmark in Richmond, Virgina and its historic marker reads as follows:
Free blacks and slaves living west of Second St. and north of Broad St. founded the Third African Baptist Church in 1857. In 1858, it was dedicated on this site as Ebenezer Baptist Church, with a white minister, the Rev. William T. Lindsay, as pastor, as required by law. On 21 May 1865, the Rev. Peter Randolph became the congregation’s first black pastor. The church made education one of its chief goals. It opened the first public school for black children in Richmond in 1866, organized Hartshorn Memorial College for black women in 1883, and helped found the Richmond Colored Young Men’s Christian Association in 1887.