A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series offers detailed historical lessons about American Black Church history, culture, politics, and activism. It also explains how, while not perfect, the institution has been, and continues to be, a sustaining force in the Black community.
It shows how the Black church as a driving force in achieving social justice for the Black community. The tenets of Christianity, as practiced by the Black church, are often referenced. Sexism, classism, and abuse within the church, and the divisions created by these issues, are also discussed.
Positive Role Models
The series briefly profiles many of the major religious and spiritual leaders from the Black church, and highlights the different ways they served their communities. The majority of leaders in the Black church are men, but some of the prominent women in church history are also highlighted.
Violence & Scariness
Slavery, abuse, civil rights violations, political violence, and murder are discussed. Some archive footage features disturbing images of violent behaviors.
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There isn't any cursing, but racist language is presented in context.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are brief references to drinking, smoking, and doing drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Black Church is a documentary series that looks at the unique and historic role Black churches have played in the African American community since the times of slavery. There are archival images of violent, racist acts committed throughout U.S. history, and discussions about sexism, abuse, and other social issues and injustice. Some of the many important leaders in the Black religious community are profiled, including those who guided the Black church into political activism.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.