Before moving to Chicago at 16, Mahalia Jackson sang at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church on Millaudon and at Plymouth Rock Baptist Church on Hillary, both churches in the Black Pearl or Uptown Triangle
On a warm Sunday morning, I arrived at the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in the Uptown neighborhood known as the Black Pearl. I was searching for the essence of a vibrant history.
This is where a 4-year-old Mahalia Jackson started her singing career. The home to the Rev. S. L. Harvey, who helped organize the revolutionary march on Washington DC with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. I was standing in space that has been occupied by giants of sonic and social change, and I was trying to put those feelings into a two dimensional photograph.
Service started and hymns filled the air. Traditional Southern gospel tunes were flavored by the slinky beat of drums and jazz riffs from the piano. Though in a foreign environment, a wave of familiarity and family washed over me as I began taking these photographs.
Sometimes you find yourself on an adventure larger than you expected.
Photo 1: It is interesting to imagine who sang here & who started here. I felt like that history didn’t overwhelm what was going that day either. This Sunday morning stood on its own. the congregation worships on a recent Sunday morning
Photo 2: Elder James Frazier leads a service that feels like a gathering of friends
Photo 3: Usher Mary Travis’s Bible
Photo 4: Norman Stovall adds jazz riffs on a piano that has been at the church at least as long as he has been a member
Photo 1: I knew all the words to everything. I could sing along, while I was holding my camera. William Preston plays drums at Mt. Moriah
Photo 2: the African American Hymnal waits on the back of a pew
Photo 3: soft sunlight shines through the stained glass windows in the mornings
Photo 4: congregants hold hands in prayer.
Photo 1: Mary Travis is known as one of the best cooks in the congregation, often
cooking for church events
Photo 2: Mary Travis’s cornbread and greens on a recent Sunday morning.