WATCH: The Black Church and Progressivism – In Arkansas and the Nation

Progressive victories in Alabama in 2017 and Georgia in 2020 are just a part of the long history of the Black Church.

The Church body and congregation have found refuge in the pews and community, establishing the ground zero for social justice. A new four-part PBS documentary explores this remarkable 400-year history. Watch the first episode for free below. 

From PBS: 

The series, executive produced, hosted, and written by Dr. Henry Louis Gates (The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, African American Lives, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise) examines the vital role the Black church has played in shaping the Black American experience, revealing 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 their own and also a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.

While you are here, take a moment to learn about the First Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, which is the oldest Black church in Arkansas.

From Arkansas PBS:

Over the 175 years since its foundation, the First Missionary Baptist Church has witnessed many historical events. The church’s fifth pastor, Reverend Ronald Smith, was very active in the civil rights movement and, in 1954, Smith led a group of ministers to call for the end of segregation in public schools and public spaces. In 1963 the church’s congregation invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to speak four months before the March on Washington, and King gave the church’s 118th anniversary sermon. Also, in 1990, former Gov. Bill Clinton spoke at the church for its 145th anniversary address shortly before announcing his presidential campaign.