This Far by Faith




About the Series

Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6

About the Series
In six hours of dramatic storytelling, This Far by Faith examines the African-American religious experience through the last three centuries. From the arrival of the early African slaves, through the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights era, and into the 21st Century. This Far by Faith explores the connections between faith and the development of African-American cultural values.

This Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys is a co-production of Blackside Inc. (Eyes on the Prize, America’s War on Poverty, and Malcolm X: Make it Plain) and The Faith Project, Inc. in association with the Independent Television Service. It is presented on PBS by WGBH and ITVS. SERIES CREDITS

Episode 1: There is a River
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"There is a River" explores the evolution of African-American religious thought, from the beliefs and rituals Africans brought to America to the influence of Christian teachings imposed on slaves in the new world. It charts the devbelopment of underground churches, and attempts by slaves and free blacks to unify the black community. It tells the stories of Sojourner Truth and Denmark Vesey. Both were born enslaved; both used the Gospel to shape their identities. However, both used their voices in very different ways-one chooses retribution and the other, engagement. ABOUT THE EPISODE

Episode 2: God is a Negro
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God Is a Negro takes place after Emancipation, as the minister and journalist Henry McNeal Turner uses the black church to engage newly freed blacks in the political realm. Pastor Turner helped organize the Repubican Party in Georgia only to find himself denied access to societal institutions as discrimination reigned in the dark days following Reconstruction. Turner encouraged his followers to find God from within. His emphasis on a black nationalist philosophy alienated him from the mainstream, but led to a greater role for the black church in African-American culture. ABOUT THE EPISODE

Episode 3: Guide My Feet
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Guide My Feet traces African-Americans as they move from the rural South to the promised land of the industrial North. It is the story of two sourthern migrants, Rev. Cecil Williams and Thomas A. Dorsey, born a generation apart, both seeking to bring the reality of the streets into the church. In Chicago, Thomas Dorsey, a pianist with blues singer Ma Rainey, invents gospel music. In San Francisco, the Reverend Cecil Williams develops a "come as you are" church. Through their work, Dorsey & Williams create new expressions of faith. ABOUT THE EPISODE

Episode 4: Freedom Faith
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Faith sustained black families through the oppression of segregation in the 1940s and 1950s. It provided the courage needed to fight Jim Crow. The efforts of student workers on the front lines of the civil rights movement are shown from the perspective of Rev. Prathia Hall(1940-2002) and others.. Hall is one of many voices in the film-voices of ordinary people who, through faith, risked their lives to challenge America to live up to its promise "that all men are created equal." ABOUT THE EPISODE

Episode 5: Inheritors of the Faith
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"Inheritors of the Faith" follows those who seek spiritual fulfillment outside of Christianity. It explores Islam and Yoruba. Yoruba originated in West Africa and pre-dates Christianity. Yoruba worshipers find a means of gaining strength and spirituality from within. The film also explores the role of the Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammad. When Muhammad's son, Warith Deen, assumes leadership after his father's death, he transforms the organization to follow the practice of orthodox Islam (Louis X. Farrakhan resurrected the ideology of the old Nation of Islam in 1978). ABOUT THE EPISODE

Episode 6: Rise Up and Call Their Names
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In 1998, 60 people embarked on an Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage. The pilgrims took a physical and spiritual voyage, walking from Massachusetts to New Orleans, through the Caribbean, and ultimately, to Goree Island in Senegal. They pray for their ancestors and seek to heal the country's wounds of slavery through prayer vigils at historical slave sites. In time, they discover that the true wounds lie within themselves. After months of difficult travel and deep soul-searching, the pilgrims reach Africa with a stronger sense of identity and purpose. ABOUT THE EPISODE

Series Credits

Air Dates
Check local listings here.

Companion Book
This Far by Faith. The companion book of the same title was written by NPR correspondent Juan Williams (with historical notes by University of Indiana professor Quinton Hosford Dixie). It goes beyond the series to explore the full diversity of African-American religious expression.

This Far By Faith: Stories from the African-American Religious Experience (Hardcover Book) - $29.92
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Available as a boxed vhs set or as a DVD for $199.95

Each hour-long episode combines rich archival photography, compelling music, inspiring interviews, and vibrant recreations to shed light on a population that has confronted adversity and clung to hope since the first enslaved peoples arrived on these shores. (For educational and institutional use only).

This Far By Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys (INDEX) - $199.95
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This Far By Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys (DVD Video Plus) - $199.95
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Blackside Productions

Faint Into Action

The Faith Into Action Web site seeks to assist clergy, laity, and those who work with or plan to work with religious organizations to build stronger communities. Historically, in America we know that faith-based groups use ministry to address the important issues of poverty, education, political action, economic development, as well as others. In contemporary times, faith organizations have grown in their sophistication, experience, and reach to provide leadership in community transformation and family strengthening