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Los Angeles Church Celebrates 125th Anniversary Aided by Professor Lorn Foster

On April 24th, 2010, Second Baptist Church, the second oldest Black church in Los Angeles, celebrated its 125th Anniversary. Lorn Foster, Pomona’s Charles and Henrietta Johnson Detoy Professor of American Government and professor of politics, helped the church put together their archives and organize a half-day conference titled “We’ve Come This Far by Faith 1885-2010: Commemorating Our Past, celebrating Our Present and Embracing Our Future.”

The church, Foster explains, is a central part of the history of Black Los Angeles. It is not just a sacred space. In 1928, [the church] hosted the first of the three NAACP conventions. It hosted the conference again in 1942 and again in 1949. In June of 1955, J. Raymond Henderson invited a young PhD, the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr. to preach his first sermon on the West Coast. Dr. King preached his last sermon here three Sundays before he died in March of 1968. This church has been at the heartbeat of the NAACP and the civil rights movement.”

Foster is currently working on a book about the secular role of the first black churches in Los Angeles and their role in social mobility. Read more about Foster in the Winter 2008 issue of Pomona College Magazine.