A Tale of Two Entrances: Selma's Tabernacle Baptist Church

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Selma
The Tabernacle Baptist Church as it appeared in summer 2014 on the corner of Broad St. (left) and Minter Ave. The church hosted the first mass meeting of the voting rights movement in 1963.John Brecher / NBC News

African American architect David T. West designed the Tabernacle Baptist Church in 1922 at the corner of Broad St. and Minter Ave in Selma. At that time, black people weren't free to walk or have addresses on Broad Street, Selma's main north-south artery. The building's location at the corner meant congregants would have to come and go from the Minter side, but the architect could still make a statement. West designed a grand entrance for use on Minter Ave (to the right in this picture), and an identical entrance facing Broad St. Though the doors on Broad St. went unused, they faced the town's major thoroughfare. According to Sam Walker, historian of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, the address changed from Minter Ave to Broad St. when the Jim Crow laws were reversed.

- John Brecher

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