On this Martin Luther King Day, the legacy of an African-American church is being honored.
In 1941 Bethel Baptist Church became the center of activities for the African-American Community in McAllen.
“We came to McAllen in 1941. My parents united with Bethel. And all of us children united with the church here. We grew up in the church with Brother and Sister Hubbard and his wife trained us. They told us when we pass off you guys take over.” Said resident Lula Stroud.
Several decades after the creation of one of the first African-American churches in the Rio Grande Valley, old site is now recognized as a historical landmark in Texas.
Pastor Nicholas Maddox said, “We knew we had this land, we knew we had the history. We didn’t know if we had the paper to help us tell the story. And then one thing lead to another.”
For five years, Pastor Maddox and several members of the community worked to trace back the history of Bethel Baptist Church. And on this Martin Luther King Day, their hard work has paid off.
Lula Stroud says, “”We’re very honored because Martin Luther King Jr. Was a strong man, a strong leader. And he didn’t believe in violence. And we have to put that in our hearts, to love people. We have to love everyone, regardless of their race. We love people.”
The old building no longer sits on the corner of 16th Street and Booker T Avenue. But everyone will now know this community garden has a bigger story to tell.
Pastor Nicholas Maddox says, “This was just a vacant lot that was just used for trash. There would be beer cans and old mattresses and trash. But we knew in telling this story, we needed to preserve this land and beautify it and take care of it.”
Bethel Baptist Church was torn down more than 10 years ago. In 2014 the church merged with Baptist Temple Church in McAllen.