Parents' Guide to

The Black Church

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Brilliant docu reveals role of the Black church in America.

TV PBS Educational 2021
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This compelling series offers fascinating details about the history of the Black Church, deemed by many as the most consequential institution in the Black community. It reveals how early African-American reinterpretations of Christianity, and their improvised ways of practicing it, served as ways to find solace and hope on their terms. It highlights the connections between different African faith-traditions, including music and dance, and its influence on the Black church throughout history. How early invisble worship spaces and plantation praise houses laid the foundation for established Southern churches, and how those churches differed from those in the North. The documentary also shows how the Black church emerged as a powerful leader in the fight for civil rights and social justice, and reveals how the U.S. Reconstruction-era rise of Black "preacher politicians" inspired the faith-based social and political activism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Black Church celebrates the institution's rich and empowering history. But also raises questions about its ability and willingness to change some of its practices, and modernize its messages about sexism, abuse, and homophobia. It also suggests that the Black church's absence from more recent secular protests, including Black Lives Matter, is a sign that it is struggling to find its place in contemporary Black activism. While some may not agree with these assessments, raising these questions is a call to the Black church to collectively think about how it will serve a new generations of members if it wants to continue playing a positive and meaningful role in their lives. Regardless, it impossible to come away from this series without a better understanding of the critical role the Black church, as an overall institution, has played througout the Black history, and how significant it remains Black culture.

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