Beginning in 1776, America achieved independence from Great Britain. Freedom of Religion was added to the Bill of Rights and Thomas Jefferson later became our 3rd US President. With freedom of religion, the Baptist faith soon spread from Rhode Island into the South, including the State of Virginia.
Baptists in Alexandria, Virginia separated from the Backlick Baptist Church on Little River Turnpike, to form the Alexandria Baptist Society. Susan Black, a Negro slave was baptized as its first Colored member in May 1803. During this time Coloreds were invited to join this organizing group. In 1806, the Colored members formally established the Colored Baptist Society of Alexandria as a ‘conjoined’ church with the Alexandria Baptist Society. This created the first black Baptist church north of Richmond, Virginia. In 1815, its numbers grew when slaves from Mount Vernon Plantation join the Colored Baptist Society.
During 1818, members of the Colored Baptist Society were able to rent property at 313 South Alfred Street to have their meetings. They rented from the Lawasons who were members of the Alexandria Baptist Society. Our Church has worshipped on this same site since 1818. In the 1820s Rev. William Evans assumed leadership/pastoral role of the Colored Baptist Society. The Coloreds were not allowed to worship without a White person present so we continued to be conjoined with the Alexandria Baptist Society.
But in 1823, Alexandria Baptist Society (white) granted privilege to Negroes to open their meeting house for worship on Sundays at 313 South Alfred Street. On September 1, 1842 members of the Colored Baptist Society purchased the site on Alfred Street after 18 years of leasing. In 1850, the Colored Baptist Society was granted complete independence from ‘conjoined’ Alexandria Baptist Church (white) and adopted the Alexandria Baptist Church’s Constitution. Membership of the newly independent Colored assembly stood at 83 persons.
In 1842 the Alfred Street property was purchased and the name was changed to African Baptist Society. The property has been owned by the church since that time. The first known building constructed by the congregation was built in 1855. The Church had 200 members, and changed its name to the First African Baptist Church. The Church paid off the mortgage on new building in two years.