Black History Month became a national celebration in 1976, but time set aside for celebrating and learning Black History goes back to at least February 1925 in observation of the birthdays of both Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
As Baptists, we celebrate George Liele, the first African-American licensed to preach and ordained in 1773. He then organized the First African Baptist Church in 1777 in Savannah, Georgia, and then became a missionary to Jamaica where he established a school and church.
Here in Wisconsin, we celebrate the establishment of Calvary Baptist Church in 1895, the oldest African American Baptist Church in the city of Milwaukee. Calvary was the first African American church in Wisconsin to join the Wisconsin Baptist State Convention (now American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin), and in 1923, Rev. Samuel S. Russell helped organize Black Baptist Churches in the Washington Baptist Convention (now the Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention, Inc).
We also celebrate that the first clergywoman to serve as ABCUSA president is Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray from Milwaukee in 1999-2001. Dr. McCray has served in various churches and ministries here in Wisconsin and beyond, and currently a member at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.
We encourage all our churches to learn their history and especially learn the history of Black Baptist Churches. A History of the Black Baptist Church: I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired by Wayne E. Croft, Sr. is available from Judson Press, www.judsonpress.com. We hold a number of historical records in our archives room here at the region office. Contact Sean Cornell, email@example.com or call 262-782-3140 if you would like to view records.