September 24, 2023

Know Your History: Jack Yates

By: Jeniece Thompson

John Henry (Jack) Yates was born into slavery in Gloucester County, Virginia on July 11, 1828. Even though it was illegal, he learned how to read. As a young person, he participated in slaves’ religious gatherings. He married Harriet Willis, and in this union, they had eleven children. In 1863, Harriet’s master relocated to Matagorda County, Texas. Not wanting to be away from his wife and children, Yates pleaded to go with them.

When emancipation occurred in 1865, the Yates family left for Houston to find work. During the day, Yates was a drayman, and at night, a Baptist preacher. Yates had started holding meetings in Houston for the Home Missionary Society on behalf of Isaac Sydney Campbell. This jumpstarted him being ordained as a preacher. Yates became the first pastor at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, which was the first black Baptist church in Houston.

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required
Scroll to Top