On-Demand: Part 1 The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

On-Demand: Part 1 The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

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Credit: Courtesy of PBS

Watch On-Demand: Part 1 of the two-part series reveals the broad history and culture of the Black church and explores African American faith communities on the frontlines of hope and change.

Tracing the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage. The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

See Episode 1 through 3/16/21: 

PART ONE – Aired Tuesday, February 16 at 9:00 p.m. on WXXI-TV

Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the roots of African American religion, beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the extraordinary ways enslaved Africans preserved and adapted their faith practices under the brutal realities of human bondage. As an awakening of Protestant Christianity spread in the 18th century, Black Americans embraced a vision of a liberating God and Black churches that would become bedrock institutions in the long struggle to dismantle slavery, culminating in the Civil War. With Emancipation and Reconstruction, independent Black churches flourished and helped the formerly enslaved navigate a perilous freedom by fulfilling the social, educational, financial, cultural, and political needs of​ African Americans. Dr. Gates speaks with noted scholars, public figures, and religious leaders about faith and the struggle for rights in the midst of growing racial violence that would continue well into the 20th century. Key figures include founder Richard Allen and preacher Jarena Lee of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; abolitionist Frederick Douglass; influential religious figure Henry McNeal Turner; and pioneers Virginia Broughton and Nannie Helen Burroughs of the National Baptist Convention.

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