Second Baptist Church in Detroit Michigan is the oldest Black Church in the Midwestern United States, being founded by thirteen black men and women in March 1836. It was the seventh major church in Detroit to receive operating permission from the Michigan Territorial Legislature.
Second Baptist Church, on the National Historic Register since 1975 as well as the Michigan Historic Sites, played a very important part in the freeing of American slaves in the nineteenth century, including being a “station” on the Underground Railroad. From 1836 through 1865, members of Second Baptist Church harboured over 5,000 slaves on their way across the Detroit River to Canada in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act.
Second Baptist has been active in civil rights and community rights throughout its history; starting schools for “colored children”, demanding the right to vote for blacks after the Civil War, hosting a public reading of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, and holding meetings for well-known abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Detroit native and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Ralph Bunche was baptised at Second Baptist Church.