Civil Rights Era at St John's Church


Though African Americans had been married by St. John's rector in the 1840s, in 1960, the church had no African-American members. As the Civil Rights Movement gathered force, the Church leadership recognized the need to actively welcome parishioners of all races. In August 1963, the same month that saw the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom during which the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech, St. John's Reverend John C. Harper sent a letter to his parishioners that read, "This church building is open, as it has always been, to all who want to worship here; the ministry of this parish is extended to any who seek it; our fellowship one with another has no limitations whatsoever." On the day of the March on Washington, over 700 people meeting for the march filled St. John's.



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Designed by Benjamin Latrobe, St. John's Church is a early historic building on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

Designed by Benjamin Latrobe, St. John's Church is a early historic building on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. Carol Highsmith