Second Baptist in the 1960s
In 1963, violence raged throughout the American South, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, and Congress deliberated over legislation that would secure the civil rights of millions of Americans. In that same year, Reverend Leroy Adams took over the ministry of Second Baptist. Adam’s commitment to social justice and civil rights would become an essential aspect of his ministry. By all accounts, the congregation of Second Baptist was not outwardly politically active during this era. However, the church served as a support network for addressing social justice issues that affected the lives of many of the town’s African American residents.
Paramount among the concerns of the African American community in Wooster was the issue of housing discrimination. For many decades, de facto segregation restricted Wooster’s African American residents to living south of Wayne Avenue. Richard Morrison Jr., the son of one of Second Baptist’s founders and a respected community leader who later won recognition as Wooster’s “Citizen of the Year” in 1975, was not able to purchase a house in a mostly white neighborhood in 1964.1 Reverend Adams fought this type of racial injustice by assisting several members of his congregation who were looking for houses and jobs in the face of systematic racism.2
1 Alma Kaufmann, “Wooster Negro Buys a Home - Ten Year Story Has a Happy Ending,” The Daily Record, July 13, 1964, “Dick Morrison Dies; An Era Ends,” The Daily Record, Oct. 11, 1977.
2 Alma Kaufmann, “Housing is Rated Number One Problem of Wooster’s Negroes,” The Daily Record, July 11, 1964.