Bill seeks honor for historic church

4/18/2014, 6:14 a.m.

Congress is exploring whether the historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta meets the criteria for designation in the National Park System.

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and Austin Scott of Georgia introduced the bipartisan West Hunter Street Baptist Church Study Act – H.R. 4119 on Feb. 28 to authorize the Department of Interior to do the study.

During the civil rights era, the West Hunter Street Church served as a headquarters for many civil rights workers and organizers. It was the site of many important leadership meetings and doubled as a school for nonviolent protest during initiatives such as the Voter Education Project and the Freedom Summer of 1964.

It was also a spiritual refuge for the countless men and women who devoted their lives to the cause.

The bill was signed by 29 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation.

Johnson, a Democrat who represents the 4th Congressional District, said the history of the civil rights movement is a lesson in democratic ideals.

“It is a testimony to the strength of our Constitution and to the courage of our people,” he said. “We deeply believe that it is our duty to preserve these landmarks and to share their significance with future generations.”

Scott, who lives in Tifton, is a Republican who represents the 8th Congressional District.

Bill co-sponsors include Democrats David Scott of the 13th District, John Barrow of the 12th District and Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of the 2nd District.