History of Union Baptist Church

The church has an extremely rich history in the civil rights movement, starting in 1892 with its withdrawal from the Maryland Baptist Union Association because of its discrimination. In 1897, Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson, Union Baptist Church’s 5th Pastor, was the minister who organized the Colored Baptist Convention. Johnson, a friend of W.E.B. DuBois, established the Niagara Movement, which was a prototype for the NAACP. He also filed a lawsuit to gain equal pay for black teachers and to make it possible for black lawyers to practice in the state of Maryland. The planning meetings preceding the Niagara Movement were at Union Baptist Church. Dr. Johnson also filed a lawsuit and won the first case in the U.S. striking down the identification of Negroes as cargo in interstate commerce. During this time thirteen churches were established from Union’s congregation, five of which are still in existence today.

On October 3, 2010, Union Baptist Church’s main sanctuary building was dedicated for being placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States National Parks Service. This honor was bestowed because of the significance of Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson and the architect of the main sanctuary, Mr. William J. Beardsley. The stain glass windows in the main sanctuary were created by Mr. John LeFarge, the internationally known inventor of the art of using opalescent strained glass.


Civil Rights Legacy

The church has an extremely rich history in the civil rights movement, starting in 1892 with its withdrawal from the Maryland Baptist Union Association because of its discrimination. In 1897, Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson was the minister who organized the Colored Baptist Convention. Johnson, a friend of W.E.B. DuBois, established the Niagara Movement, which was a prototype for the NAACP. He also filed a lawsuit to gain equal pay for black teachers and to make it possible for black lawyers to practice in the state of Maryland. The planning meetings preceding the Niagara Movement were at Union Baptist Church. Dr. Johnson also filed lawsuit and won the first case in the U.S. striking down the identification of Negroes as cargo in interstate commerce. During this time thirteen churches were established from Union's congregation, five of which are still in existence today.

 

Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson 1872-1923

That the time has fully come when we as Colored Baptists should establish and maintain our own denominational institutions, as Colored Baptists, is the true, deep and solemn covniction of many of the brethren, and I am of the same conviction. - Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson, 1897... read more


Union Baptist Chronological History