2017 Black History Bus Tour Is Huge Success!

By Brandi Phillips  •   Photos By Khyle Martin

Columbus, GA--To celebrate the heritage of Black People in Columbus for Black History Month, more than 100 people, young and old, gathered at The Columbus Times Complex for two Black History Bus Tours during the month of February.  Pictured are area youth that took the tour rubbing the doors of Saint James AME Church (1002 6th Ave.), which was one of the tour stops.  Three quarters of a century had passed since Richard Allen and Absalom Jones led their brothers and sisters of African descent out of Saint George Methodist Episcopal Church in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787. They established Bethel AME Church on the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in that city.  In 1864, the Reverend William Gaines, an ordained Deacon and brother of Bishop J. Gaines of Charleston, SC, became the first pastor of Saint James. In those days, all of the churches in Georgia belonged to the South Carolina Conference. The first conference in Georgia was organized in Macon on May 30, 1867.  The property on which Saint James AME Church stands was given to the African Methodist Episcopal Church by an act of the Georgia Legislature in 1873. The present edifice, a cathedral in structure and design, was erected during the pastorate of the Reverend Wesley J. Gaines at a cost of $20,000.00. It was completed in 1876. The front doors, which came from the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, are probably the oldest parts of the church. The heavy, ornately carved front doors were built by slaves at the Dudley Sash and Door Company located at Sixth Avenue and 13th Street. The bell tower was built while the Reverend Larry Thomas was pastor (1886-1887). 

Saint James is the second oldest church of its denomination in Georgia. This congregation has held memberships in five annual conferences: the South Georgia, the Georgia, the North Georgia, the Macon Georgia and the Southwest Georgia. Twenty-three bishops have assigned the fifty-two pastors to Saint James AME Church.  The church has served the African American community as a center for educational, professional and civic meetings.

The second two-hour historic guided tour concluded at the yearly annaul Black History celebration, “Walk To Remember” sponsored by Green Acres Cemetery and The Columbus Times Newspaper, which took place at Green Acres Cemetery.

“I decided that we needed to do something different for Black History.  And when I look around and see all the historical markers and businesses that have been here for many, many years, I thought maybe we need to teach our young people about their local Black history right here in Columbus, GA,” said Barbara Pierce, Black History Bus Tour Coordinator, CEO & Founder of Unique Euphony Publishing Group and Office Manager of The Columbus Times Newspaper.

Attendees explored the home of the world famous “Mother of the Blues” singer Gertrude “Ma Rainey” Pridgett, touched church doors carved by slaves and learned more about numerous Black owned businesses, historical Black figures, buildings and markers around Columbus. 

The Black History Bus Tour lasted over two hours long and visited over 25 locations.
Walk To Remember included, Mrs. Gloria Battle, of Battle and Battle Funeral Home and a living legend in this community, giving livley accounts of the Black History makers interred at Green Acres Cementary.  Guest were then able to take a self guided tour of the cemetary seeing first hand where many of these historically Blacks were laid to rest, along with a catered lunch by Popeyes on Wynnton Road.

If you would like more information about getting involved with The Black History Month Bus Tour and Walk To Remember for 2018 contact columbustimes706@gmail.com.