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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Beale Street Baptist Church

Founded in the late 1840s by Rev. Morris Henderson and four other blacks, Beale Street Baptist Church is the oldest, continuous Negro congregation in Memphis. Withdrawing from the First Baptist Church, the founders and others met in an old dwelling house until it burned in the 1860s. Later they acquired a lot for $5,000 and held their early meetings in a brush arbor. Soon afterward the present building was constructed. Architects were E.C. Jones and M.H. Baldwin. This was the first brick church in the Mid-South built by and for blacks. (see other side) It is considered the Mother Church of all black Baptist churches in this area. Ministers who have served this church include: Revs. Morris Henderson, Scott Key, R.N. Countee, Taylor Nightengale, P.J. Jackson, Henry Clemons, J.P. Hurt, J.C. Bowers, J.L. Lewis, B.J. Perkins, George A. Long, and James A. Jordan. Many outstanding leaders have spoken here, including President Ulysses S. Grant in 1880, U.S. Rep. Oscar DePriest in 1930, and A. Philip Randolph in 1944.