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Ensley church, parsonage get history markers

The Birmingham News
Birmingham, AL

Monday, August 20, 2007

Malcomb Daniels
News staff writer

A historical marker was unveiled Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Ensley.

During the civil rights movement, the church was the site of mass meetings while the Rev. A.D. King, the brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was pastor.

A marker was also unveiled at the church's parsonage, which was bombed in 1963 while King and his family lived there. The parsonage is nine blocks from the church.

King died in 1969 at the age of 38.

Some of his family members attended the unveiling ceremonies, including his wife, Naomi, and daughter Alveda, as well as his grandchildren.

Local dignitaries and participants in the civil rights movement in Birmingham were also on hand.

Naomi King said Sunday was another opportunity for people to learn about the contributions of her husband, the younger brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"In many cases, the Rev. A.D. Williams King was not given the honors and tributes he so richly deserves," said Naomi King, who now lives in Atlanta.

King was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ensley on 19th Street from 1961 until 1965. His home at 721 12th St. in Ensley was bombed May 11, 1963.

The Village Creek Society, through its historical committee, led efforts to get historical markers placed on both sites.

Efforts are also under way to get the church and parsonage designated national historical landmarks, said Marjorie White, executive director of Birmingham Historical Society.

First Baptist Church of Ensley was a frequent spot for mass meetings in the spring of 1963 as civil rights leaders were making preparations to challenge the status quo, White said.

On Sunday, area elected officials, including Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid and Jefferson County Commissioner Larry Langford, spoke of how the contributions of those in the past had made it possible for them to be where they are today. Officeholders, as well as others, also talked about ongoing efforts to revitalize Ensley.

Kincaid said there's a lot of things happening in Ensley, but it's also vital to remember the past.

"It's very important that those who are survivors realize we haven't forgotten the sacrifices that were made to allow an African-American to stand before you as mayor of Birmingham," Kincaid said.

Despite the sacrifices of the past, Langford said the black community has become its "biggest enemy" and it's time for a change. "As we celebrate, we need to remember the sacrifices that were made and vow to never do these things again that we've done to each other," he said.

Read the Priests for Life Press Release

Read the speech given by the Historical Society at the historical marker ceremony

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