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“The history of the First African Baptist Church and the role it played in the Underground Railroad.”

First African Baptist Church
Ranked #9 of 233 things to do in Savannah
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: First African Baptist Church was organized in 1773 under the leadership of Reverend George Leile and established and constituted in December of 1777 as a body organized believers. Under the leadership of the 3rd Pastor Reverend Andrew C. Marshall, the congregation obtained the property where the present sanctuary stands. Marshall also organized the first black Sunday school in North America and changed the name of the church from “First Colored Baptist” to “First African Baptist”. The sanctuary was completed in 1859 under the direction of the 4th Pastor Reverend William J. Campbell. The ceiling of the church is in the design of a “Nine Patch Quilt” which represented that the church was a safe house for slaves. Beneath the lower auditorium floor is another finished sub floor which is known as the “Underground Railroad”. There is 4ft of height between both floors. The holes in the floor are in the shape of an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram that served a purpose of ventilation. First African Baptist Church has been a place of leadership and service since its inception. Reverend Emmanuel King Love, 6th Pastor, led the movement to establish Savannah State University, formerly known as Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth. Rev. Love also played a big role in the establishment of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and Paine College in Augusta, GA. During the time of segregation the church served as the largest gathering place for blacks and whites to meet. Visitors from all walks of life have visited out sanctuary and left inspired. TOUR RATES: Adults = $7.00; Seniors = $6.00; Students = $6.00; Children Ages 5 & Under = FREE. TOUR HOURS OF OPERATION: Tuesday - Saturday = 11:00 a.m. & 2:00p.m. Sunday = 1:00p.m.
Reviewed 28 June 2018

We have been on other tours in Savannah, yet this tour was outstanding! I might guess that our guide is a history professor. Our guide was very informative, engaging, and personal.
The tour, rather discussion, lasted about 2 hours. We sat for most of the tour, but at times were standing. It was always interesting and when one topic was completed I was anticipating the next. What I liked best was the detail of history and insight of the early church members and the people who were associated with the church.
I would rate this the number one tour in Savannah with all other tours a distant second.

Thank brucemichaeljacobs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"underground railroad"
in 227 reviews
"tour guide"
in 82 reviews
"runaway slaves"
in 16 reviews
"worship service"
in 11 reviews
"black history"
in 27 reviews
"african americans"
in 22 reviews
"sunday service"
in 12 reviews
"franklin square"
in 9 reviews
"amazing history"
in 19 reviews
"living history"
in 12 reviews
"piece of history"
in 12 reviews
"american history"
in 13 reviews
"history lesson"
in 21 reviews
"pipe organ"
in 12 reviews
"great tour"
in 34 reviews
"lots of history"
in 17 reviews
"highlight of our trip"
in 10 reviews
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17 - 21 of 902 reviews

Reviewed 25 June 2018

Seriously, you haven't fully experienced Savannah unless you sign up for this tour. Our tour guide, Joe, was absolutely phenomenal - extremely knowledgeable about the church and it's history and was one of the most engaging people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. My boyfriend and I were originally planning to just pop in and look around, but it just so happened that we had arrived right at the beginning of the tour. It's a week later and I'm still thinking about it, it was that good.

I've taken tours in other old, southern cities (including Savannah, of course) and while they were also extremely engrossing and educational, I couldn't help but notice that there seemed to be a hesitation to discuss and explore the dark past that most of these cities were born from. Don't get me wrong - I love nothing more than visiting beautiful antebellum homes and gawking at all the gorgeous architecture, but I felt that I was doing a disservice to myself to not at least try to learn more about Savannah's role in the slave trade, however uncomfortable it might make me feel. Joe is a natural storyteller and painted a vivid picture of the slaves who, after working full days, would arrive to work on this church that has since withstood fires, earthquakes, and the ravages of war, and they did it all without an education. It was inspiring and a true testament to the persistence and strength of the black community in Savannah that this church and its congregation have thrived throughout the years.

I would encourage everyone to take this tour while in Savannah, regardless of race or religion. It's doubly important in today's world that we remember how this country came to be, and that we can still celebrate our past while acknowledging that it certainly wasn't all glorious. I left feeling like I understood Savannah, and I now love and appreciate it all the more.

Thank Katherine K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2018

I highly recommend going on the First African Baptist Church Tour. The Tour Guide just made it come alive. There was not a lot of bells and whistles but she was an authentic story teller. She made us feel like we were a part of the underground railroad.

Thank Linda J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2018

We haven’t stopped talking about our tour and “not a tour guide”Joe! He was very informative and thought provoking during the tour. So much history that isn’t told during the trolley tours, that needs to be told! The church is beautiful! Well worth the time to see!

Thank retiredngoing
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 June 2018

Over the past three years, we've been to most historical locations in the area and BY FAR, this was the most informative and expansive tour we've had - including what we have learned from the trolley tours. Not only will visitors learn about the church history, but also explanations that clarify and fill in gaps about the South since the 1700's and African American history, including facts we did not know about the Underground Railroad.

Our guide, Joe, was very entertaining and provided details we did not previously know. Joe adjusted the tour to fit the audience and took questions and expanded topics of interest as we went along. In addition, he turned the tour into a great educational lesson for the one child that was on our tour. We also had fun meeting the others in our group. For those who might hesitate to pay an entrance fee, this is well worth the price. We plan to visit again to see more of the library and to learn even more.

Thank Nancy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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