A companion to the PBS series, This Far by Faith isthe story of how religious faith inspired the greatest social movementin American history the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
Hailed upon publication as a beautiful, seminal book on the role of the church in the African American community as well as on the social history of America, This Far by Faith reveals the deep religious conviction that empowered a people viewed as powerless to blaze a path to freedom and deliverance, to stand and be counted in this one nation under God. Here are the stories of politics, tent revivals, and the importance of black churches as touchstones for every step of the faith journey that became the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Using archival and contemporary photography, historical research, and modern-day interviews, This Far by Faith features messages from some of today's foremost religious leaders.
Williams, who wrote the companion volume to the award-winning PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize, and Dixie, an Indiana University professor, offer a well-illustrated companion volume to the upcoming PBS series "This Far by Faith." They follow the traditional contours of other studies of African-American religious history, beginning with slavery and following the tale through the emergence of free black churches; the nadir of the late 19th century; the Great Migration; the rise of black nationalism and urban religious traditions in the early 20th century; the civil rights movement; and the embrace of alternative religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and the Five Percenters in the 1970s through the 1990s. One particularly interesting segment discusses those mid-20th century black Christian leaders who adopted conservative stances on integration; Williams and Dixie have done a great service by presenting these ministers' views alongside the more familiar stories of civil rights leaders, demonstrating the ideological diversity of the African-American church. At times, the book's writing style can be abrupt and jerky, switching from one historical figure to the next, or between different cities, without transitions to help the reader. The prose is also overburdened with romantic language about heroes who laid their all at the altar of sacrifice, etc.-a device that may work well over six separate installments of a television series, but quickly becomes redundant in print. The real strength here is not the writing but the 76 memorable photographs and illustrations, which powerfully attest to the courage and religious convictions of generations of African Americans. (Feb.) Forecast: In the 1980s, the companion volume to the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize sold more than 200,000 copies. This book should also enjoy strong sales, especially during and after June, when the six-part documentary will be broadcast on many of the nation's 349 PBS stations.