We all know the story of the American Revolution: star-spangled banners and midnight rides on horseback, tea in harbors, lanterns in windows and General Washington leading his troops across the Delaware. But by the time Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown in 1783 and The United States of America celebrated the end of its war for independence, this historically black congregation in Savannah was already ten years old.
When General James Oglethorpe first established Savannah and the colony of Georgia in 1733, he did not initially allow slavery in the colony, but by 1750 the practice had been legalized by the governing Trustees. When a slave named George Liele felt called upon by God to preach, he was supported by his owner, a Baptist deacon. Reverend Liele organized the congregation of Savannah’s First African Baptist Church in 1773 and it was constituted in 1777. Leile’s master had freed him before the start of the Revolution, but after his master’s death in 1782, he feared becoming re-enslaved and evacuated to Jamaica with the English Loyalists as the war began to come to a close.
Savannah Black Heritage & Cultural Experiences
From historic sites and museums to the city's thriving black-owned businesses of today, Savannah's African American culture and rich heritage are important and noteworthy chapters in our city's story.