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Editorial: A shining beacon

Emerging from the darkness of the Civil War and the generations before, a particular group of Americans cast about for a strong light to illuminate the new path its members had to navigate.

Freed slaves followed the light in 1866, gathering in a grove of poplars and establishing a congregation that continues to thrive.

Zion Poplars Baptist Church celebrates its 150th anniversary this weekend. The oldest African American church in Gloucester, it is listed on the state and national registers of historic landmarks.

Founded in an act of faith, Zion Poplars guided its members not only with sustenance of the Gospel, but also with a social structure that paved pathways to education, to voting, to becoming citizens in a New South.

It gave them shelter when Jim Crow laws pushed back against freedoms for former slaves and their descendants.

Zion Poplars did not yield. It survived, it grew, it stands prominently upon a rise on T.C. Walker Road, continuing to shine its beacon not only for tho...

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