Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery’s Ninety Years Birthday Celebration at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, October 9, 2011 included a birthday song by Stevie Wonder. Next to Rev. Lowery is his wife of 60 years, Evelyn Lowery. A UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry. Used with permission.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery was a pastor at Warren Street United Methodist Church in Mobile, Ala., when he met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid-1950s. As president of the ministerial alliance in Mobile, Lowery received an offering from all the churches in the city to support the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that began in December 1955 under King’s leadership. And in 1957, he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King and served as president and chief executive officer from 1977 to 1998.
February is Black History Month. The Media Center has books and DVDs for adults and children related to Black history in The United Methodist Church and in our larger culture. Engaging with these resources helps us to understand more about where we came from and what work there is still to do to improve our connection. Keep reading to see our recommendations for:
- DVD documentaries
- Online video series
- Small-group studies
- Lenten studies
- Books for discussion
- Children’s resources
Also, make sure you check out the resources offered by The NC Conference Strengthening the Black Church Ministries Committee. It includes a 28-day prayer guide, a sermon, and ideas and helpful ways to promote Black History.
Request These Resources
You may borrow any of these resources for use at your church or at home. We can mail them to you! Simply fill out the Resource Request Form, or contact the Media Center with any questions. The NC Conference Media Center is open to anyone involved with the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, free of charge.
African American History & Devotions: Readings and Activities for Individuals, Families, and Communities by Teresa L. Fry Brown. Abingdon Press published this 28-day devotional on African American history. It includes scripture, readings, prayers, and activities for individuals, families, and groups.
Psalms for Black Lives: Reflections for the Work of Liberation by Gabby Cudjoe-Wilkes & Andrew Wilkes. This book includes thirty devotions, each containing a psalm, a reflection, and an invitation for the reader to develop a justice imagination through further engagement with the text. It also includes daily discussion questions to support small-group study and a guide for congregational and community groups who want to embody the words of the Psalms together.
The Night is Long but Light Comes in the Morning: Meditations for Racial Healing by Catherine Meeks. From the winner of The President Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award, a spiritual guide to restoring yourself from racial trauma and committing to the long work of dismantling racism. Meeks shares highlights and insights from her journey and offers a much-needed meditative guide for the weary and frustrated. With personal stories and thoughtful direction, she takes the reader on the trajectory from self-awareness to recognition of the past, to a new and individual way forward.
We’ve Come This Far By Faith: A History of Black Methodism in the Southeastern Jurisdiction
A 30-minute documentary from the African American Methodist Heritage Center that tells the history of Black Methodism in our jurisdiction.
Black Methodism: Legacy of Faith Revival
This 30-minute documentary focuses on several related and pivotal events in the life and history of the Methodist church: the end of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction in 1967; the founding of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in 1967; the birth through merger of The United Methodist Church in 1968; and the establishment of the General Commission on Religion and Race in 1968.
Justice or Just Us? The Biblical Call to Confront Racism
This four-week video curriculum is based on a sermon series and anti-racism commitment at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Pastors Rob Fuquay, Nicole Caldwell-Gross, and Jevon Caldwell-Gross help you acknowledge the reality of racism in our world today, as well as our Christian responsibility to oppose it as individuals and together as the church.
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.
The Color of Compromise Video Study: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
This 12-session DVD study is an acclaimed, timely narrative of how people of faith have historically–up to the present day–worked against racial justice. And a call for urgent action by all Christians today in response.
Blood Done Sign My Name
This 2-hour film brings to life the book of the same name by Timothy B. Tyson, son of Rev. Vernon Tyson. They tell the true story of a racially-motivated murder in Oxford, NC, and the efforts of Rev. Tyson and a local teacher to seek justice for this crime.
Online Video Series
Discipleship Ministries offers “Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Song from the Black Church Experience” with Bishop Ernest Lyght and the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson, Executive Director of Worship Resources. This four-part online video series explores how music from the Black Church, such as the traditional Negro spiritual, hymns, songs both sacred and secular, and contemporary gospel, has contributed to the rich musical tapestry of today’s worship experience.
Professor Sarah Ruble offers Race and Christianity in the United States, a free online video series that focuses on the history of black/white relations in the U.S. and considers how race and Christianity have interacted, for good and for ill. It offers a narrative that helps to answer the question, “how did we get here?”
Lent begins on February 22nd. Use one of these studies to experience Lent through the lens of African American spirituals.
Reflect Reclaim Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music
This study uses a companion DVD and is divided into three sections, “Ring Shout, Prayer Band,” “Negro Spirituals,” and “Long-Metered.” This small-group study is part of the Africana Hymnal Project of The United Methodist Church.
Plenty Good Room: A Lenten Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals
This book study combines an in-depth look at Scripture, American history, and the music and lyrics of six African American spirituals. The six-session study provides biblical, social, and historical analyses of the spirituals: ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” “This Lonesome Valley,” “Bow Down on Your Knees,” “Plenty Good Room,” “Ain’t Dat Good News,” and “Were You There?”
On Ma Journey Now: A Lenten Study Based on African-American Spirituals
This six-session book study has an accompanying CD with recordings of “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me,” “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley,” “A City Called Heaven,” “Po’ Mou’ner’s Got a Home at Last,” “I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray,” “On Ma Journey Now, Mt. Zine (Zion),” and “Were You There?”
From Preparation to Passion: Devotional and Reflective Meditations Celebrating the Lenten Season Based on the Lectionary and Celebrated African American Sacred Songs and Hymnody
This devotional book includes meditations highlighting sacred songs such as: “My Tribute,” “God Is,” “O Didn’t It Rain,” “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord,” and more.
I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist.
Ten Black women and men explore life through the lens of compelling personal religious narratives. They are people and leaders whose lives are tangible demonstrations of the power of a divine purpose and evidence of what grace really means in face of hardship, disappointment, and determination. Each of the journeys intersect because of three central elements that are the focus of this book. We’re Black. We’re Christians. We’re Methodists.
When the Church Woke by William B. Lawrence. This book identifies the sin of racism throughout the history of The United Methodist Church and offers an innovative look at the mission of the church, based on biblical witnesses to new life with the resurrection. It offers proposals for reparations and renewal that will come when the church woke.
Pioneer Black Clergywomen: Stories of Black Clergywomen of the United Methodist Church 1974-2016 by Josephine Whitely-Fields. Black clergywomen are pioneers of the United Methodist Church who continue to significantly contribute to making disciples and spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their stories are inspiring illustrations of the Holy Spirit at work in ordinary people who said yes to ordained ministry.
Breaking Barriers: An African American Family & the Methodist Story
On July 19, 1984, Leontine Current Kelly was elected bishop of The United Methodist Church, making her the first African-American woman to become a bishop within a major American religious denomination. Breaking the Barriers recounts the story of her journey and that historic achievement.
Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land by Joseph E. Lowery
In this book are Dr. Lowery’s most enduring speeches and messages from the past fifty years including Coretta Scott King’s funeral and the benediction given at President Obama’s inauguration. This book, however, is not simply a collection of words. It is the heart of a movement and a call to a new generation to carry the mantle–for all people.
The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word That Moved America
This book chronicles Martin Luther King, Jr.’s religious development from his childhood as a “preacher’s kid” in segregated Atlanta to the most influential American orator of the twentieth century.
The Past Matters: A Chronology of African Americans in the United Methodist Church
A chronology of African Americans in the United Methodist Church compiled and with a forward written by Marilyn Magee Talbert.
Let Justice Roll Down: Young Reader’s Edition
John Perkins endured racism, police violence, and the death of his brother at the hands of a deputy marshall, yet he was able to return good for evil, love for hate, and progress for prejudice. Now young readers will discover the transforming faith that allowed him to respond with miraculous compassion and become a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
How to Fight Racism: A Guide to Standing up for Racial Justice: Young Reader’s Edition
Dr. Jemar Tisby helps kids understand how everyday prejudice affects them and what they can do to create social change. He explains the history of racism in America and why it is so prevalent, as well as uses Christian principles to provide practical tools and advice kids can use to develop and maintain an anti-racist mindset and make a positive difference in the world.
The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights
This hardcover picture book for children ages 8 and up uses the Beatitudes as a backdrop for Carole Boston Weatherford’s powerful free-verse poem that traces the African American journey from slavery to civil rights.
The Harriet Tubman Story
This animated 30-minute DVD from the Torchlighters series tells the story of Harriet Tubman for children ages 8-12.
God’s Trombones: A Trilogy of African American Poems
This 30-minute claymation DVD animates three poems by James Weldon Johnson, “The Creation,” “The Prodigal Son,” and ” Go Down Death.”
Black History Month – Activity for Kids
The General Commission on Religion and Race published this free PDF that you can download from their website. It is a word scramble of the names of Black United Methodist History-Makers.
Cokesbury Kids Free Downloads
To help spark good, faith-based conversations with your children during the month of February and beyond, Cokesbury is offering four FREE downloadable study sessions from the Deep Blue Life series. These sessions can help you and your children grow in appreciation of this critical part of American history. They include:
- Cloud of Witnesses: Sojourner Truth
- Cloud of Witnesses: Harriet Tubman
- Faith & Culture: Anti-Racism: Colors and Cultures
- Faith & Culture: Anti-Racism: Prejudice and Stereotypes
United Methodist Communications is also offering free social media graphics to share during Black History Month.
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.