First Baptist Church seeks letters of support in fight for historic designation
by Clara Harter
The First Baptist Church of Venice is fighting to preserve the 110 year legacy of its historically black congregation and is seeking public letters to support its designation as a historic cultural monument.
The stakes to save the church building are high. It was sold into private ownership in 2017 and without a historic designation it is likely to be demolished and transformed into private residences.
To many residents this epitomizes the gentrification and erasure of history in the historically black neighborhood of Oakwood, where African American laborers who dug the Venice canals first built a community in the 1910s and 1920s.
Over the following decades black residents faced redlining, police harassment, unconstitutional gang injunctions, exclusion from local political groups, predatory real estate, and rising gentrification, according to fifth generation Venetian and Oakwood native Mike Bravo.
Through all these challenges the church served as a spiritual refuge for the community..read more