Segments in this Video

Black Telegraph (04:44)


Bob Dylan says that "popular songs are the only art form that describes the tempo of the times." Slaves create the African American spiritual, incorporating African theology, Christianity, and pigeon English. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker explains how every genre of American music has been influenced by black sacred music.

Invisible Church (09:33)

Slaves meet covertly to worship in a Christian ceremony that incorporates African beliefs. The ensemble sings "I Know the Lord Has Laid His Hands on Me," "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel," "Lord I Want to Be a Christian," and "Walk Over God's Heaven."

Double Meanings (03:07)

Singing "Steal Away" signals rebellion and that Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad is nearby. Nat Turner hides for two months after inciting an insurrection. "Wade in the Water" communicates to runaways that bloodhounds are nearby.

Runaway Slaves (08:14)

The ensemble sings "Deep River." A slave plans to run away when someone sees Black Moses nearby. Penalties for running away include losing a foot, a beating, or lynching; a mother grieves the death of her son.

Credits: Song for the Spirit — Part 1 (00:05)

Credits: Song for the Spirit — Part 1

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Songs for the Spirit — Part 1

Part of the Series : Songs for the Spirit
3-Year Streaming Price: $49.95



The popularity of nihilistic and satanic rock music has been blamed for the rise of violence among some American youth. The influence of music in American culture is immeasurable. One case in point is the important role that Black sacred music has played in the survival of African Americans throughout their history. This program from Tony Brown's Journal looks at the evolution of music in the Black experience and its roots in the spiritual and in the songs for freedom.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL167326

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.