• Brothers Jalen, Nasir, Cayden and Ramontier in front of the First African Baptist Church, Dublin Photo by J. Doug Hall

    First African Baptist Church

    Dublin, GA

  • Where words changed the world.

    On April 17,1944, Martin L. King, Jr. gave his first public speech at this historic church in Dublin, GA.

    The Catalyst

    Capture a glimpse into the child that became a legend of the Civil Rights movement. On April 17, 1944, the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia held their state convention at First African Baptist Church in Dublin and sponsored an essay contest. A 15 year old student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta delivered a speech entitled “The Negro and the Constitution.” Little did the audience realize they were witnessing the first public speech by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

    The Insight

    The speech detailed the struggle for true equality, ending with the quote, “My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I, with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon- a Negro-and yet a man!”

    The Lesson

    Little did the audience realize what they were witnessing. In his autobiography, the young man recalls that the reading of this essay was his first public political speech. The young man spent the next twenty four years of his life fighting for the constitutional rights of the people of his race.


    The young man, who came to Dublin was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


    On the return trip to Atlanta from Dublin, young Martin Luther King, Jr. was asked, for the first time in his life, to relinquish his bus seat and stand in the rear of the bus with his teacher. Dr. King initially refused the demand, but was later convinced by his teacher to give up his seat.

    Oratorical Speech Contest

    Each year, First African Baptist Church celebrates the speech-making tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by hosting an Oratorical Speech Contest.


    Sponsored by Visit Dublin GA, Oconee High School National Alumni Association, and Fort Valley State University National Alumni Association, the contest is open to children in 6th grade and higher.


    For more information, click here: Oratorical Speech Contest

  • The Dream


    Inspire to Aspire

    Photo: Randall Gearhart

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park

    A desire to inspire positive social change was planted in young Martin Luther King, Jr. that day in Dublin, GA.


    Dublin's monument commemorating King's first public speech at First African Baptist Church serves to preserve not only the historic moment but inspire other people, young and old, to consider how they can effect social change. This project bridges social and economic gaps, creating links to African American achievement through art and education, inspiring social action and unity.


    Photo: Randall Gearhart of Dublin's Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park as of April 17, 2017


    Additional improvements to the site include a sculpture in the center of the plaza, fountains, and steel bands inscribed with quotes from Dr. King's later speeches.



    • Over 200 partners & contributors from across the state gave of their resources to make the Park a reality.
    • Over $100,000 in grants funded the construction of the Park
    • Transformed a former parking lot into an artful gateway to Downtown Dublin
    • First African Baptist Church is now listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places.
    • MLK Monument Park & First African Baptist Church made national news in Parade on April 16, 2017.
    • MLK Monument Park officially opened to the public on April 17, 2017.
    • In a final fundraising push, four Dublin businesses answered the call to donate towards completing the project. Dubbed the 5 for 5 Challenge, YKK AP Inc., Curry Companies, Community Foundation of Central Georgia, and Visit Dublin GA each donated $5,000 towards installing the final phase of the project: a sculpture by Dublin artist, Juan Lleras, lighting, and landscaping to be installed at First African Baptist Church.  On May 23rd, YKK AP confirmed they would donate an additional $5,000, completing the 5 for 5 Challenge.
  • Be Inspired

    at Dublin's Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park

    A Vision for the Future

    Mural by Corey Barksdale

    Crafted by renowned Atlanta artist, Corey Barksdale, speaks to the wish that future generations will carry the hope of Dr. King's legacy to future generations.

    Audio Tour

    In their own words

    Listen as the art of storytelling reveals four stories of the past, bringing the era of the Civil Rights Movement to life.

    Stories include:
    Button 1 : Local young men, Haven Stanley & Yu'Trevius Spikes, read Dr. King’s speech given in Dublin on April 17, 1944 entitled The Negro and the Constitution.
    Button 2: A look behind King's Dublin speech.
    Button 3: Interview with local leader, Julie Driger, relating her experiences marching with Dr. King in St. Augustine, FL during the Civil Rights Movement.
    Button 4: Dr. King’s retelling of his experiences in Dublin and his return trip to Atlanta, when for the first time, he was asked to relinquish his seat to a white passenger and step to the back of the bus.

    Mobile App

    Dive deeper

    This state of the art mobile app includes a dynamic look at 71 historic landmarks, sites and buildings in Dublin’s city center. Featuring a collection of historic photography of each location from the archives of local historian Scott Thompson, this tour gives visitors an in-depth look at the history and culture that shaped the history and architecture in Dublin, including Dudley Motel, which at one time was a meeting place and overnight accommodations for civil rights champions, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Developed by Visit Dublin GA, the app includes includes interactive features that allows users to customize their tour, post their experience to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and can be downloaded at the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/downtown-dublin-georgia-walking-tour/id1225482234?mt=8 or at Google Play at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.populace.dublintour&hl=en

    First African Baptist Church Mural

    Photomural by Randall Gearhart

    See what a young King saw as he gave his first public speech and view the interior of the Church that remains remarkably unchanged since that day in 1944 in this vibrant photomural captured by Dublin artist, Randall Gearhart.

  • Make the Dream Reality

    “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream


    Walk with us.

    Donate towards the construction of this dream by clicking the link below.

  • Progress Updates

    Follow along as we build this dream!

  • Where you'll find us

    For more information, contact us.





    Our thanks to J. Doug Hall for capturing the moment above of brothers Jalen, Nasir, Cayden and Ramontier in front of the First African Baptist Church in Dublin. This photo is featured on the cover of Hall's new book, The Road Leads Back: An Ode to Georgia.

    Click the photo for info.