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One of Tallahassee's first churches acknowledges and repents for history involving racism

Posted at 10:53 PM, Jan 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-21 22:53:02-05
  • One of Tallahassee’s oldest churches is facing its troubled history head-on by holding a special ceremony to acknowledge the role slavery played in the church's past.
  • First Presbyterian acknowledged and repented for their racist past with a ceremony and plaque.
  • In the 1830’s enslaved people built the sanctuary, and from after the Civil War until the 1950s, people of color weren’t welcome.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT

Righting a wrong of a church’s history in the capital city…

I’m Terry Gilliam, your neighborhood reporter in Downtown Tallahassee.

One of Tallahassee’s oldest churches is facing its troubled history head-on by holding a special ceremony to acknowledge the role slavery played in the church's past…

“I was leaving a little early, he came to the door…I said I can’t stay long Pastor; I’ve got to get up to Trinity Downtown. He asked what’s happening, and I said they’re putting up a plaque in honor of the slaves who built the church…”

Gloria Jefferson-Anderson was born and raised in Tallahassee.

She’s a member at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, but couldn’t miss this special service happening at First Presbyterian Church…

“When I First got the message about it, I said wow I’m going to be there!”

That message was about First Presbyterian acknowledging and repenting their racist past…

“What we did today is we’re trying to do the work of Justice, right here at the corner of Park and Adam’s in Downtown Tallahassee…”

Interim Pastor Anne H.K. Apple told me this meant a lot to many people in the community for the service to reveal a plaque outside the church.

In the 1830’s enslaved people built the sanctuary, and from after the Civil War until the 1950’s, people of color weren’t welcome.

“The truth shall be told. I’m so glad to be here today… Just to see this (points) happening here, this is a beginning of Tallahassee…”

This reckoning started in 2020…the summer that George Floyd was murdered.

First Presbyterian formed the Healing Racism Task Force.

I spoke with Task Force member, Ann Westall, about the process of getting the plaque done for the special service…

“We began to think about Plaques and publicly acknowledging… to see it finally come to fruition is amazing.”