The first mass meeting was held at Holt Street Baptist Church. In the last five decades that site has fallen into disrepair. Plans to build a new church and turn the original building into a museum were met with resistance. Now, an update on the status of those projects.
Little did people know when they piled into the Holt Street Baptist Church the night of December 5, 1955 what they were getting themselves into. They ended up voting to extend the bus boycott that was suppose to last only one day and they established Martin Luther King as their leader. The church holds about 700 people but more than 5,000 people were there that night. Rev. Willie McClung is the present minister at Holt Street. "If you add standing room and people in the basement and people in the back room you got a thousand at least in the building."
That means some 4,000 people were outside surrounding the church where there were loud speakers. And inside, it's pretty much the same as it was then. The pews and cushions are the same ones people sat on fifty years ago. But, about ten years ago the church wanted to expand, and decided to build a new church but not without protests and lawsuits and resistance. Joyce Johnson was a protest organizer when we interviewed her in 1996."I'm still tenaciously pursuant to keeping our church. It's history. It's not made to be a monument. It's made to be a place of worship."
But, the majority of the congregation won and plans are still on to turn the sanctuary into a museum because now the church has a new building on Court Street. McClung says "We lost about a hundred members in the process of moving."
Members brought the original pulpit furniture to the new building for safe keeping. They say they'll return it when the museum opens and the minister says he's committed to that. "Nobody in Montgomery, whether they lived here for a lifetime or not, can be anymore committed to saving and salvaging Holt Street's original building than I am."
Right now, they're still meeting in the Family Care Center at the new church until the new sanctuary is finished. The old Holt Street Baptist Church has been vandalized and must undergo some renovation. The minister thinks that will take about six months to a year before the museum there can open.
And, the new church on Court street has a new name. It's called the Holt Street "Memorial" Baptist church.