FIRST MEXICAN BAPTIST CHURCH
During the years 1910-1930 Mexican migration to the United States grew exponentially because of political turmoil in Mexico and farm labor shortages in the United States. The Mexican Revolution (1910 and 1920) and the Cristero War (1926-1929) forced war refugees and political exiles to seek a better life in the United States.
As a result, legal immigration grew from 20,000 per year during the 1910s to 50,000 - 100,000 per year during the 1920s. Chinatown’s First Mexican Baptist Church was a reflection of the growing number of Mexicans in the neighborhood. This was the first church that was constructed specifically for Fresno’s Mexican community.
Members of the congregation did most of the construction of the church and in 1924 the church was completed for a total cost of $25,000. The church has been a light to the community not just its own congregation. In the past the church featured a Christian health clinic and a Hispanic Masonic Lodge. The Lodge sponsored burials for those members of the congregation who could not pay for their own.
1061 E Street,
Fresno, CA 93706
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ANTI-LATINO DISCRIMINATION IN AMERICA
The political upheaval caused by the Mexican War and Cristero Wars during the early 19th century forced war refugees and political exiles to seek safety in the U.S. This coupled with a desperate need for cheap labor by American employers led to a massive wave of Mexicans.
Although Latinos were critical to the United States economy they were segregated into urban barrios in poor areas. They were segregated from schools, restaurants and movie theaters and were even subject to illegal deportation and lynching. Anti-Latino sentiment grew during the late 1920s as the Great Depression began. As unemployment grew, Americans accused Mexicans of stealing their jobs.
According to History.com the United States forcibly removed up to “2 million people of Mexican descent from the country - up to 60 percent of whom were American citizens.”
During these turbulent times, the First Mexican Baptist Church served as a place of refuge for the growing Mexican community. Shining like a beacon in the dark, the church helped all those in search of community and healing.