Mt. Zion Mission Baptist Church Sign

The Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church sprang up in rural areas across the South following the Civil War, providing a place of rest and community for freed slaves. Even if church services only occurred once or twice a month when a traveling minister visited, the house of worship provided not only a place to rekindle faith but as a school and meeting house for fraternal clubs. Homecomings came around harvest time, bringing visitors from across the country. Relatives and neighbors who had moved away came back to spend time with family, sharing stories of their lives in northern cities. The often-embellished picture of northern urban life painted at such reunions encouraged others to contemplate boarding trains north.
World War I brought a new era of industrial opportunity for African Americans, But as production demands grew, wartime recruitment took away traditionally white and immigrant factory workers. Northern labor recruiters, newspapers, and word-of-mouth spread news of higher wages and regular work being offered to African Americans willing to move. Desire for better treatment and better paying jobs brought hundreds of thousands of African Americans north.
Those left behind in the South found continued solace and fortitude in the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, leading the way in continuing the fight for basic civil rights for all. Freedom songs sung in marches and jails spread to whites traveling from northern colleges to join in the struggle, spreading lyrics and ideas back north that have now become familiar to those visiting the National Mall and public squares across the country participating in democratic demonstrations of a range of popular issues.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Mt. Zion Mission Baptist Church
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 87 in x 30 3/4 in x 3 in; 220.98 cm x 78.105 cm x 7.62 cm
Place Made
United States: Mississippi, Jackson
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
African American
Cultures & Communities
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Religion
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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