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Louisiana’s Black Church: The Politics of Perseverance

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How has the Black Church helped Louisiana’s African American community persevere through centuries of turmoil? From the Civil Rights Movement of days past to the struggles of the modern age, LPB’s Kara St. Cyr explores the importance of the Black Church in Louisiana, taking you on a journey across our state to show you the history and the culture that makes our state so unique.

Local production support was provided by: State Farm, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the CSRS.

LOUISIANA’S BLACK CHURCH – AN LPB VIRUTAL EVENT

More than 350 people across Louisiana and the country signed up to take part in the LPB Virtual Event Louisiana’s Black Church. Presented in partnership with Louisiana’s HBCU Advisory Council, attendees were treated to a sneak peek at the Henry Louis Gates, Jr., series The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. Hosted by Robyn Merrick, Southern University’s Vice-President for External Affairs in Baton Rouge, the evening featured a lively discussion with a panel of experts from the Southern University System, Grambling State University, Dillard University, & Xavier University of Louisiana. They covered a variety of topics from the role of Louisiana’s Black Churches in the Civil Rights Movement to the impact of gospel music in the church and on contemporary culture. Dr. Samuel C. Tolbert, President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. also provided his expertise and perspective.

LPB’s Kara St. Cyr provided the audience with a look forward to her documentary Louisiana’s Black Church: The Politics of Perseverance.

Local production support was provided by: State Farm, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the CSRS.

Our Event Host:

Robyn Merrick is Southern University's Vice President for External Affairs in Baton Rouge.

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Our Panelists:

Dr. Samuel C. Tolbert, pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA

Dr. Samuel C. Tolbert, pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA

Rev. Tolbert has been pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA for more than 30 years. He is also President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., which is the second largest African-American Christian body in the United States. He is a graduate of Bishop College in Dallas, Texas having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and philosophy with a minor in speech education and he earned a Master of Divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA. Rev. Tolbert completed the Doctorate in Ministry (D.Min) degree in expository preaching in May 2017 at the Stephen Olford Center at Union University in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. Charles Vincent, Professor of History and University Historian, Southern University

Dr. Charles Vincent, Professor of History and University Historian, Southern University

The Louis Jetson-Lamar Cooperation Professor of History at Southern University and A & M College and a fellow of the Louisiana Historical Association. Dr. Vincent began his higher education at Utica Junior College and earned his undergraduate degree at Jackson State University. He received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Louisiana State University. He has taught at universities across the South and has published Black Legislators in Louisiana During Reconstruction, A Centennial History of Southern University and A and M College, and co-authored Images of America: SCOTLANDVILLE.

Rev. Herbert Brisbon, Chaplain, Dillard University

Rev. Herbert A. Brisbon, III, Chaplain, Dillard University

Newly appointed University Chaplain at Dillard University, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He earned his Master of Divinity and Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, DC; his Bachelor of Religion/Social Work from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, and his Associates in Science from Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Chaplain Brisbon is passionate about teaching, preaching and shepherding God’s people as he challenges them to experience, engage and encounter God in a Neo-Orthodox way.

Dr. Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, Chair, History Department, Xavier University

Dr. Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, Chair, History Department, Xavier University

The Keller Family Endowed Associate Professor of History at Xavier University of Louisiana. She earned her Ph.D. in American History from Louisiana State University with concentrations in African-American and Latin American history. Throughout her academic career, she has focused on the New South period through the Civil Rights Movement, with particular interest on African American activism in Louisiana. Dr. Sinegal-DeCuir teaches courses in African American History, including Slavery and Servitude, U. S. Civil Rights Movement, and Hip Hop and Social Justice.

Ms. Natorshau M. Davis, Assistant Professor of Vocal Music/Choral Director, Grambling State University

Natorshau M. Davis, Assistant Professor of Vocal Music/Choral Director, Grambling State University

In her twenty-third year as a Music Educator Ms. Davis has earned undergraduate degrees from Louisiana Tech University in Vocal Performance and Vocal Music Education. She received her Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and has earned Levels I, II, and III Certifications in Somatic Voicework from the Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. Natorshau is currently the Assistant Professor of Vocal Music and Choral Director at Grambling State University.

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

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song is a moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, that traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power.



The documentary reveals 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 not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.

A production of McGee Media, Inkwell Media and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Get Lifted.


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LOUISIANA: THE STATE WE'RE IN

Louisiana: The State We're In - Louisiana's weekly news magazine. Issues affecting Louisiana are discussed.

LPB’s award-winning news program Louisiana: The State We’re In did a deeper dive into Louisiana’s Black Church. You can watch those stories below and watch all new episodes of Louisiana: The State We’re In every Friday at 7pm







INTERACTIVE TOOLKITS & RESOURCES

In support of the series, a number of interactive resources have been developed to help extend the conversation and the learning. These are all free and available for your use!

Topics include:

  • Lesson plans & educational modules – these touch on key historical events from each of the episodes. Themes include history, culture, civil rights, race and leadership.
  • Animated Series – In this short animated series, we look at just a few pivotal people who brought the reality of the right to gather, read, sing, worship, and share these truths that should have always been self-evident.


BLACK HISTORY

Stained glass imagery above photo from The Black Church of people worshipping

We bring you a lineup of films and moments, memories and people that inspire!

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence