The Black Church: This is Our Story, This Is Our Song

Taylor Miller
March 9, 2021

In celebration of Black History Month, NETWORK staff took the time to watch and reflect on the 2-part PBS Documentary Series: The Black Church: This is Our Story, This Is Our Song. Below are some of the staff’s responses to the documentary.

What did you think of the documentary?

“The Black Church was interesting and informative; not only did it tell the the history of Black Christian churches in the U.S., but it also told the story of segregation, terror, and economic oppression experienced by Black people throughout history and the Black-led freedom movements that pushed back against white supremacy.” –Colleen Ross, Communications Director

“I think it was powerful, educational and pushed you to learn more about the Black church. What really struck me was that there is a black church quite separate to that of denomination –Black saints, and a Black form of worship which is overarching identity of Blackness/African American Culture regardless of denomination and this has not been celebrated or nurtured enough.” –Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director

Did any quotes in the film stand out to you? What were the quotes and why?

“In our experience there is no separation between Church and state.” – This stood out to me because the documentary explains that “politics” was at the heart of the Black Church since its inception. That can still be seen today and is a powerful force for justice. –Lee Morrow, Press Secretary/Elections Manager

“[Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King] used the genius of the Gospel not to make this a Christian nation, but to use his Christianity to make this a just nation” -Michael Eric Dyson
I think this quote instructs us still today about how to use faith to work for justice in diverse coalitions.” –Colleen Ross, Communications Director

Would you recommend our members watch this film? Why or Why not?

“Yes. It was great learning and very important for my personal growth.” –Laura Peralta-Schulte, Chief Lobbyist

“Absolutely. I think it provides important historical understanding for how Christian Nationalism became so embedded in white churches and also how spirituality and resistance and music/art all developed side-by-side in the Black church.” –Sister Emily TeKolste, SP, Grassroots Mobilization

“Yes. I believe our members are hungry for more information on racial justice.” –June Martin, Annual Giving Manager

“Yes, because it is a celebration of the Black Church. It informs our white membership without asking our Black membership to endure something unnecessary, like reading White Fragility. From what I’ve seen, I think everyone can learn from and enjoy this program.” –Lee Morrow, Press Secretary/Elections Manager

What questions should have been asked?

“More focus on the Black Catholic story and key issues.” –Laura Peralta-Schulte, Chief Lobbyist

“Why did the slave owners allow praise houses? There was a part of the film which shows slave owners didn’t allow any praise houses or organizing in any manner and then it shows praise houses. So I would like to know how this came about. B) I think there was a misconception in the film that Arabic is only connected to Islam. In the five minutes that they say they discovered Arabic in the church they talk about Islam in the church. But Arabic is a language not a religion and there are many Christians who worship in Arabic (I myself have attended Catholic mass said in Arabic in South Sudan) so the writings in the church could be from a Christian who wrote something in his native tongue.” –Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director

Have you watched the Black Church yet? Let us know what you thought, or visit to watch.