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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WJCT Public Media to Host Community Conversation in Connection with PBS’ “The Black Church”
Support provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Jacksonville, Fla. — Feb. 2, 2021 — WJCT Public Media today announced it will host a community conversation and launch an interactive initiative in connection with “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” the upcoming PBS documentary series by Dr. Henry Louis Gates. The community conversation, titled “Sights, Sounds, and Spirit of the Black Church,” will be held virtually on February 15 at 7 p.m., and is funded by a grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.
Lynn Sherman, Director of Social Responsibility and Community Engagement at Baptist Health, will host the community conversation, which will feature panelists Jeff Boddie, Associate Director of Worship, Downtown, at Shiloh Church, Bishop Charles Bernard Eichelberger Sr., Pastor & Founder at Cathedral of Deliverance, and Ben Frazier, President & Founder of Northside Coalition of Jacksonville. Registration for this free virtual event is open at wjct.org/events/blackchurch.
“Northeast Florida’s diversity is its strength, and WJCT Public Media is proud to host this conversation centered around the connections between faith and community, and between our community’s history and its future,” said David McGowan, President of WJCT Public Media. “We encourage our neighbors to join us in exploring and celebrating the cultural and historical importance of local Black churches and their musical traditions to our region, as part of WJCT Public Media’s celebration of Black History Month.”
Additionally, WJCT Public Media invites members of churches across Northeast Florida to record and share a video that is five minutes or less in length that explains what the black church means to them. The stories will be archived in the Florida Collection at the Jacksonville Public Library through February 28. Videos may be submitted at wjct.org/blackchurch.
“The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” is a four-hour documentary series tracing the 400-year history of the Black church in America, produced by McGee Media, Inkwell Media and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Get Lifted. The series features interviews with John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, Cornel West, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Rev. William Barber II, BeBe Winans, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie and more. It premieres at 9 p.m. on February 16 and 17 on WJCT-TV, and PBS stations nationwide, as well as streaming on the PBS app, PBS Passport and PBS.org.
“‘The Black Church’ is a landmark documentary that beautifully illustrates the preeminent role church, faith and spirituality have played in shaping the Black American experience,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Through these grants, we are helping public media stations — public radio as well as public television — leverage the documentary series to bring together new partners and explore how the role of the Black church has evolved in their communities and impacted our nation.”
“Our series is a riveting and systematic exploration of the myriad ways in which African Americans have worshipped God in their own images, and continue to do so today, from the plantation and prayer houses, to camp meetings and store-front structures, to mosques and mega-churches,” said Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. “This is the story and song our ancestors bequeathed to us, and it comes at a time in our country when the very things they struggled and died for — faith and freedom, justice and equality, democracy and grace — all are on the line. No social institution in the Black community is more central and important than the Black church.”
Major corporate support for “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” is provided by Johnson & Johnson. Major support is also provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc., Ford Foundation, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Public radio station engagement grants are funded by CPB and administered by the VuHaus Group, a public media music organization of stations.
“The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” is presented as part of WJCT Public Media’s celebration of Black History Month. For a full list of programming, visit wjct.org/blackhistory.
WJCT is the community-owned and operated public media organization serving Jacksonville and the First Coast since 1958, using television, radio, digital media, and live events to help community members learn, share, and grow. For more information on WJCT’s in-depth programming content, log on to WJCT Online at wjct.org. Like WJCT on Facebook (facebook.com/wjctjax) and follow WJCT on Twitter (@WJCTJax) and Instagram (@WJCTJax).
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