Segments in this Video

African American Church (05:05)


The first Africans arrive at Jamestown on "The Jesus" one year before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock; listen to the Choir at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem. Two-thirds of African Americans believe Jesus Christ is the son of God; music, scriptures, and stories have been passed down orally through the generations.

Beginnings In Africa (04:02)

Most Africans believe in one God who created the world in a time of happiness. Men and women sing and dance as they go about daily work such as collecting food and cleaning house.

Atlantic Slave Trade (04:19)

Africans enslave prisoners of war. In 1444, the slave trade begins after Portuguese merchants capture 235 victims. Africa loses 20 million people to the New World.

Carrying Music to a New Land (02:54)

A trader auctions off slaves in the New World. Owners buy slaves from different parts of Africa to ensure they cannot mobilize. Music evolves to become a form communication.

Day on the Plantation (06:30)

Performers sing an acapella version of "In My Time of Dying." The slaves wake in the morning, sing as the get ready for work, and toil under the hot sun.

Religion and Slavery (03:28)

The African American spiritual demonstrates how slaves view conditions and respond to them. The spirituals influence all modern music in America. A preacher tells slaves they should obey their masters as they would God.

Credits: Thank God: An African-American Docu-Opera — Part 1 (01:02)

Credits: Thank God: An African-American Docu-Opera — Part 1

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Thank God: An African-American Docu-Opera — Part 1

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There is no music more beautiful, more compelling, more American than Black Sacred Music. It is the soul of the Black Church and the Black Church is the foundation of the Black Community. This program from Tony Brown's Journal is the first part in the Thank God four-part series that started out as a documentary on the African oral tradition which manifested on these shores largely as America's indigenous music. As the scenes unfolded and research progressed, there was more and more music, presenting a picture of how the African slaves learned to sing the Lord's song in a strange land.

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL167331

Copyright date: ©1985

Closed Captioned

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