The Sweet Auburn neighborhood is home to many FIRSTS. Read about them below.

    Big Bethel AME Church, 1922
  • Big Bethel AME Church’s congregation dates back to at least 1847, making it the FIRST African American church in Atlanta.3
  • In 1879, the Gate City Colored School was founded in the basement of Big Bethel AME Church as the FIRST public school for African Americans in Atlanta.3
  • Founded in 1881 by a group from Big Bethel AME Church, Morris Brown College/University (originally located on Boulevard between Irwin and Houston Streets) was the FIRST institution of higher learning in Georgia organized by and for African Americans.7
  • The National Medical Association, the FIRST organization representing African American physicians and health professionals in America, was founded at the First Congregational Church in 1895.11
  • Atlanta Life Insurance Company, 1932
  • Consolidated Company was the FIRST black small loan company licensed by the State of Georgia.5
  • Standard Life Insurance Co., established by Heman Perry in 1913, was the FIRST legal reserve company among African Americans.8
  • In 1922 Alonzo Herndon started the city's FIRST black-owned life insurance company, Atlanta Mutual, later known as Atlanta Life Insurance Company.5
  • The FIRST black-owned office building in Atlanta was the Rucker Building at the corner of Auburn and Piedmont, constructed in 1904 by businessman/politician Henry A. Rucker.2
  • Atlanta State Savings Bank opened in 1913 as the FIRST chartered black bank in Georgia.5
  • Our Lady of Lourdes was established in 1912 as the FIRST African American Catholic church in Atlanta.6
  • C.C. Hart, one of the founding investors of Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Co., became the FIRST licensed black plumber in Atlanta in the 1920s.5
  • Boxing Champion Tiger Flowers
  • Theodore “Tiger” Flowers, a deacon at the Butler Street CME Church, was the FIRST African American middleweight boxing champ, earning the title in 1926.9
  • The Atlanta Daily World, founded in 1928 by 26-year-old William Alexander Scott II, was the FIRST successful black-owned daily newspaper in America.5
  • In the 1930s, Citizens Trust Bank, founded by Heman Perry, became the FIRST African American-owned bank to become a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In 1948 Citizens Trust became the FIRST African American-owned bank to join the Federal Reserve Bank.10
  • Jesse B. Blayton, Sr.
  • Brown Boy Bottling Company, founded in 1939, was the nation’s FIRST black-owned soft drink firm.5
  • The FIRST African-American Girl Scout troop in Atlanta met at the Atlanta Daily World building in 1943.1
  • Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. was the FIRST black CPA in America.4
  • WERD Atlanta, established by Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. in 1949, was the FIRST radio station owned and operated by African-Americans.5
  • In 1951 T.M. Alexander established Southeastern Fidelity Fire and Casualty Company, the FIRST black casualty insurance brokerage company in the South.5
  • The Top Hat Club, which later became the Royal Peacock, was the FIRST integrated nightclub in Atlanta.5
Further Reading

1. Atlanta Daily World. 

2. Atlanta University Center. Sweet Auburn Avenue Triumph of the Spirit, Rucker Building.

3. Big Bethel A.M.E. Church. Our Church. 

4. BlackPast.org. Blayton, Jesse B., Sr. (1879-1977). 

5. Calloway, W. L. (1988). The 'Sweet Auburn Avenue' Business History, 1900-1988. Central Atlanta Progress, Atlanta.

6. Georgia Historical Society. Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church: Atlanta’s First African-American Catholic Church. 

7. Hatfield, Edward A. (2004). Morris Brown College. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

8. Ingham, John N. and Lynne B. Feldman (1994). African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press, Westport.

9. Kaye, Andrew M. (2003). Tiger Flowers (1895-1927). New Georgia Encyclopedia.

10. Lewis, Willard C. (2005). Citizens Trust Bank. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

11. National Medical Association, National Medical Association: History.

Sweet Auburn Works.  Preserving the Legacy
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