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The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Let Oprah testify: “I don’t know how we could have survived as a people without it,” she fervently attests of the enduring power and uplifting influence of the Black church. Winfrey is among many voices — scholars, gospel greats, faith leaders and celebrities (John Legend, Jennifer Hudson) — who help lead host Henry Louis Gates Jr. through a fascinating four-hour history of an ever-changing institution at the nexus of race, religion and politics.
It’s not an unblemished chronicle. Even as Gates tracks the infusion of Christianity into African traditions preserved during slavery, he acknowledges the sexism that kept women out of the pulpit for centuries, among other contradictions. Still, the tone is mostly reverent when Gates visits several historic churches, those sanctuaries for resilience and resistance during Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the tragedies and triumphs of the civil-rights era and the current social-justice movement.
There’s a reason Song is in the title. No study of the Black church could ignore the music that sustained the faithful, from soaring spirituals that predate the Civil War to the crossover soul of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Aretha Franklin. A joyful noise indeed.
Our Take: Gates and his fellow executive producer, Dyllan McGee, have created a compelling four-hour docuseries about a part of American history that is isn’t well known outside the Black community, but is exceedingly crucial to furthering people’s understanding of the Black experience in this country, and why the experience of today has such deep ties to enslaved lives lived 250 and more years ago.
Gates, as he has done in so many of his PBS series and specials, brings his subject matter down to the personal level. Gates knows the spirituals and the hymns, and he sings them with aplomb at different times during the series. He is awed but not intimidated when he goes into historic churches, and he and the experts that are interviewed make sense of the rise of Black churches within the context of the tough history Blacks in this country have had, from the first Africans coming over on the middle passage to 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests.
We’re looking forward to the next two hours, which go over the civil rights movement and the historic presence of Martin Luther King and bring the narrative up to the moment, where the Black church struggles to find their place in today’s BLM protest movement, as well as modernizing their message when it comes to issues like gay rights.
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