TAMPA, Fla. — The St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tampa is an African American landmark. Historic figures like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and more have spoken from the pulpit.
“The St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, or A.M.E Church, was founded in 1870 in downtown Tampa," Fred Hearns, historian at Tampa Bay History Center, said. “That church drew many of the leading African American citizens for many, many years."
"Some of the more notable figures who had spoken from the pulpit were at the St. Paul A.M.E Church include congressman Oscar De Priest, baseball player Jackie Robinson, the mother of the civil rights movement Rosa Parks, the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall, and former President Bill Clinton,” Hearns said.
“When every seat in that church is filled, it would hold almost 800 people and for many years, it was the largest building owned by African Americans in Tampa. A lot of the civil rights meetings were held there and a lot of the strategy that the students used in the 1960s sit-in demonstrations at the F.W. Woolworth was developed at St. Paul.”
“Today, the St. Paul building is on the national register of historic places. The church moved to East Tampa. It’s in a smaller facility now, but the building that was the original St. Paul continues to look just like it did on the outside many, many years ago.”