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Louisiana's Black Church: The Politics of Perseverance (2021)



Genre: Documentary

Place Covered: Louisiana

Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority

Date Issued: 2021-03-09

Duration: 00:38:00

Subjects: African American churches | African Americans | History | Religion | Gospel Music | Civil Rights | Slavery | Segregation


  • St. Cyr, Kara Narrator
  • Reid, Emma Producer
  • St. Cyr, Kara Producer
  • Hathcox, Matt Editor
  • Finley, Stephen Carl Interviewee
  • Sinegal-DeCuir, Sharlene Interviewee
  • Washington, Rogerwene Duncan Interviewee
  • Phillips, Demetrese D. Interviewee
  • Lein, Lambert Interviewee
  • Charles, Lena Interviewee
  • Singleton, Cynthia Interviewee
  • Wright, Sterling Interviewee
  • Davis, Natorshau Interviewee
  • Robinson, Gerard A., Sr. Interviewee
  • Lowe, Debra Interviewee
  • Vincent, Charles Interviewee
  • Brown, Rene Interviewee
  • Smith, Vincent Interviewee
  • Richard, Sheryl Law Interviewee
  • Brisbon, Herbert, II Interviewee


This documentary from March 9, 2021, explores the history and importance of African American churches in Louisiana from the time of slavery to the Civil Rights Movement and the modern day. It covers: the development of Black Churches, both Protestant and Catholic, in Louisiana, including St. James African Methodist Episcopal in New Orleans and Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Opelousas; the evolution of Black church music; the role of Black Churches in the Civil Rights Movement, including Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge and the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott and Pleasant Green Baptist Church in St. Francisville and voter registration efforts in West Feliciana Parish; the ongoing recovery from the three church fires in St. Landry Parish; and the concerns about Generation Z’s lack of interest in the church. It includes interviews with: Stephen Carl Finley, the director of the African American Studies program at LSU; Dr. Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, an associate professor of history at Xavier University; Rogerwene Duncan Washington, a congregant at St. James AME; Reverend Demetrese D. Phillips of St. James AME; Reverend Lambert Lein of Holy Ghost Catholic Church; Lena Charles, a parishioner at Holy Ghost; Cynthia Singleton, a parishioner at Holy Ghost; Pastor Sterling Wright of the Legendary Lighthouse Gospel Singers; Natorshau Davis, an assistant professor of vocal music and choral director at Grambling State University; Gerard A. Robinson, Sr., the manager of the Legendary Lighthouse Gospel Singers; Debra Lowe, a congregant at St. James AME; Dr. Charles Vincent, a professor of history at Southern University; Pastor Rene Brown of Mount Zion First Baptist Church; Vincent Smith, activist; Sheryl Law Richard, a congregant of Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas; and Reverend Herbert Brison II, the chaplain at Dillard University. Narrator: Kara St. Cyr