Celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Laney Walker/Bethlehem’s presence in the Civil Rights Movement January 20, 2014
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. “
– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reverend Charles T. Walker, whose home stood at 1011 Laney Walker Boulevard, was the driving force in establishing the Beulah Baptist Church, later renamed Tabernacle Baptist Church. Called by many the “Greatest Negro Preacher of His Time,” Rev. Walker helped lay the foundation of a movement that would change the course of our nation’s history.
Tabernacle Baptist Church, which stands as a landmark in the Laney Walker neighborhood, served as a base for the Civil Rights Movement in Augusta in the 1960s. In 1962, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke along with Rev. C.S. Hamilton at a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held there. Dr. King’s speech called on President John F. Kennedy to issue an Executive Order that would serve as a “second emancipation proclamation.” The ensuing civil rights legislation was ultimately signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, following President Kennedy’s assassination.
One week before his own assassination in the spring of 1968, Dr. King came to speak at Beulah Grove Baptist Church on Poplar Street. In his speech, he decried the war in Vietnam and urged instead for our nation to fight poverty and racism and for those in attendance to join the Poor People’s march in Washington. .
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.