DUBLIN, Ga. — Pastor Keith Anderson delivers the word of God in the same place Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once stood, 75 years ago.
"We're standing next to the plaque that was presented to the church a few years back, and it's all in honor of the speech Dr. King actually did here, very first speech he ever gave," Anderson said.
Dr. King was 14-years-old when he came to First African Baptist Church in 1944. Deacon Jerry Davis worked with a local historian to dig into the history.
"A lot of places can boast about where Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, but only one church can boast about it being the first place he gave a public speech. He participated in the oratorical contest, and he won. His speech was entitled 'the Negro and the Constitution,'" Davis said.
Davis worked with other departments in the city for two years to get First African Baptist Church on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Dublin played a very important role in the Civil Rights movement, because with Martin Luther King, Jr. making his first public speech here, then his journey to the mountaintop started right here," Davis said.
Anderson says he's happy the church and city are getting more recognition.
"Everyone cherishes that, how can someone of his nature have been here, and yet it seems like it's been such a well kept secret, but now it's finally being talked about more," Anderson said.
Deacon Earnest Wade says this national honor will contribute to the church's mission of bringing people together.
"The enthusiasm has spread from the black community, to the white community throughout this whole state now and being on the registry is going to bring people from all over the world," Wade said.
Deacon Davis says they'll celebrate their national historical honor during their church's 152nd anniversary in October.