Sermons from a Changing Tallahassee in the 1960s

Recently, one of our community partners, the First Baptist Church (FBC) of Tallahassee, gave us an audio CD with digitized recordings from Dr. C.A. Roberts, the pastor for the church in the 1960s. Tallahassee, as you can imagine, was undergoing a lot of social and cultural change in the 1960s as the Civil Rights Movement started to challenge and change the way of life for the country but particularly, for southern cities.

Header from Dr. Robert’s column in the church bulletin, 1965 [original item]

At the 1965 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Roberts addressed the attendees and gave a rousing speech about his efforts to integrate FBC at that time. Dr. Roberts was a fiery speaker and he clearly felt strongly about his duty to help the Church welcoming all parishioners to worship at the Church. At a time when attitudes about such a decision were filled with anger, fear and prejudice, Dr. Roberts shared his story about why it was important to him and how the congregation came to agree with him.

The other recording is a sermon given at some point during Dr. Roberts’ tenure at the First Baptist Church between 1962-1967. It is titled “Ethics of Sex” and is a fascinating glimpse into Dr. Roberts’ and the Church’s feelings about the changing sexual environment of the 1960s. It was especially interesting to us at FSU as Dr. Roberts particularly calls out a recent PowWow he attended at FSU and the behavior displayed by fraternities and sororities at the event as being against the teachings of the Church as regards sex. Many FSU students have attended FBC over the years so I can imagine some students in the audience at this sermon being either very embarrassed or perhaps angered at the sermon and what might have been seen as the Church not keeping up with the times.

Both recordings are a window into a very different time in Tallahassee and the challenges the Church and the community faced as society altered quickly and drastically throughout the 1960s. Please browse all of our materials from the First Baptist Church in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository.

Published by Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

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