The Black Church – “Telling Our Story, Singing Our Song: Preserving and Protecting Our Sacred Spaces in Dangerous Times”

Image representing the Black Church Series

“Telling Our Story, Singing Our Song: Preserving and Protecting Our Sacred Spaces in Dangerous Times.”

Wednesday, February 17
7:30pm EST

Conversation and Q&A with the filmmakers Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris of PBS’s The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song introduced and moderated by Amilcar Shabazz, Professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Shabazz will join Stacey Holman and Shayla Harris for a conversation on the role of the Black Church as a place targeted for racist attacks that yet remains a powerful locus of love and lore, contributing to hope and progress in the world, especially where people of African descent live and struggle. The conversation explores also traditions of storytelling and song at the foundations of community, resilience, and building futures in the African American community from the time of slavery to the realities today.

The first part of the series is available on PBS stations nationwide and for streaming at now (check local listings). Our livestream and Q&A with the filmmakers and introducer will occur at 7:30pm EST on February 17.

Right after the livestream, the second half of the series will be available on PBS stations nationwide and for streaming at at 9:00pm EST on February 17.

The MMFF includes a video introduction to the series by Professor Shabazz.

Watch and Participate:

Introduction by Amilcar Shabazz

“The Black Church” on

(Full series available now!)

Live Conversation and Q&A with the Filmmakers
via Facebook or YouTube

(Weds, February 17 at 7:30pm EST)


All events are free and open to the public.

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

(2021, Produced and Directed by Stacey Holman, Shayla Harris and Christopher Bryson, USA 240 minutes, in English)

Guests: Stacey Holman (series producer/director) and Shayla Harris (producer/director)

Introduced and moderated by: Amilcar Shabazz, UMass Amherst

“This moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, 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. Featuring interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, Cornel West, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Rev. William Barber II, BeBe Winans, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie and more.” (PBS)

The first half of the series will be available on PBS and streaming on February 16. Our livestream and Q&A with the filmmakers and introducer will occur at 7:30pm EST on February 17. Right after the livestream, the second half of the series will be available at 9:00pm EST on February 17.

For more information about The Black Church please visit the NEPM page for the series.

In partnership with New England Public Media.
nepm Logo

About the Filmmakers

Stacey L. Holman

Image of Stacey L. Holman

Stacey L. Holman is a Harlem-based filmmaker who’s directed/produced several award-winning projects including episode three of the 2018 PBS series Reconstruction: America After the Civil War hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. She was a producer on the critically acclaimed documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities and served as Associate Producer on the Emmy award-winning film Freedom Riders produced/directed by Stanley Nelson. Additionally, Stacey was Coordinating Producer for Nelson’s Peabody Award-winning documentary Freedom Summer, and she was Co-Producer on Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band.  

Stacey’s short film Dressed Like Kings garnered the Tribeca Film Festival All Access Award and aired on the WORLD Channel as part of the AfroPoP Shorts Program. She was the Series Producer/Director of Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s Black Church series The Black Church: This Is Our Story. This Is Our Song scheduled to broadcast on PBS in February 2021 and she is currently one of the producers/directors on Gates’ Making Black America: African American Social Networks airing on PBS in the fall of 2021. 

Shayla Harris

Image of Shayla Harris

Shayla Harris is an award-winning independent director and producer based in New York.

She recently produced and directed 2 episodes of 4-part series on the history of the black church with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. that will air on PBS in February 2021. She was also a producer on “Who Killed Malcolm X?,” a 6-part documentary series for Fusion/Netflix that was nominated for an Emmy.

Previously, she was a senior producer for digital video at Frontline PBS. Before joining Frontline, she managed the production of enterprise videos and web series at The New York Times and won numerous awards, including an Emmy for “Life, Interrupted,” a documentary series about a young woman with cancer that she shot, edited and produced. In nearly a decade with the Times, she earned a National Magazine Award, a George Foster Peabody, an Overseas Press Club Award and several Emmy nominations for her work. Before that, she worked on award-winning documentaries for Dateline NBC, including as the producer of “The Education of Ms. Groves,” which won both an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and a Peabody. She was also an associate producer on “Pattern of Suspicion,” a duPont-Columbia, Silver Baton investigation of racial profiling in Cincinnati and “Children of War,” an Emmy
winning story on Ugandan child soldiers.

Harris has been honored as an IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Grantee, an IWMF African Great Lakes Reporting Fellow, a Next Generation Leadership Fellow, French-American Foundation Young Leaders Fellow and a Pew International Journalism Fellow. She has served on the Board of Screeners for the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and the Filmmaker Advisory Committee for the IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund and has judged multimedia and short documentaries for contests and film festivals like POYi, POY LatAm, World Press Photo and DocNYC. In addition, Harris has taught graduate journalism classes and lectured at conferences at NYU, CUNY, Columbia University, Missouri School of Journalism and many others. She is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

About the Introducer & Moderator

Amilcar ShabazzImage of Amilcar Shabazz

A professor in the University of Massachusetts W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies since 2007, Shabazz served as the department’s seventh chair from 2007 to 2012. From 2013 to 2016, he was the Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor for Diversity and Excellence, and, from 2016-2018, he again acted as the department’s chair for an interim term. He continues to teach in the department with an emphasis on the political economy of social and cultural movements, education, and public policy. His book Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas was the winner of the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and other scholarly recognitions. The Forty Acres Documents, a volume he co-edited with Imari Obadele and Johnita Scott Obadele and for which he wrote the introduction, was one of the earliest scholarly works in the modern movement for reparations for slavery and the racial oppression of people of African descent in the U.S. Shabazz currently serves as President of The National Council for Black Studies, the premier organization of Africana Studies professionals in the world.



THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Media and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Get Lifted.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the writer, host, and executive producer. Dyllan McGee is executive producer. John Legend is executive producer on behalf of his production company, Get Lifted. John F. Wilson is executive producer in charge for WETA. Bill Gardner is the executive in charge for PBS. Stacey L. Holman is the series producer and director. Christopher Bryson and Shayla Harris are producer/directors.  Deborah C. Porfido is the supervising producer. Kevin Burke is producer.  Robert L. Yacyshyn is the line producer.  Christine Fall is the archival producer.