New Dissertation! The Negro Spirituals’ Influence on the Growth and Development of the Black Church in the United States

This dissertation by Samuel Williams explores the foundational influence of Negro Spirituals on the development of the Black Church in the United States and investigates if this influence, or lack of influence, continues with the 21st century Black Church in the United States. Fifty Black Churches were surveyed regarding the current influence of Negro Spirituals on the 21st Century Black Church in the United States. Combined with the theological, historical, and bibliographic research, data revealed that the Negro Spiritual was foundational to the development of the Black Church. Read more

About That Song You’ve Heard, Kumbaya

St. Luke Baptist Church in Hog Hammock, a Gullah Geechee community on Sapelo Island, Ga.CreditDavid Goldman/Associated Press

We chant it with locked arms and closed eyes, at campfires, in protest lines and from the pews at church, but the truth is, many of us have no clue what the lyrics mean or exactly where they come from.

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya. Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya.

Thanks to research and lobbying by residents of a coastal community descended from slaves, the origins and meaning of “Kumbaya” have been recognized in Congress, raising hopes that a fading culture might get a boost. The song may be sung more often than usual this month, especially in the part of Georgia where its soulful lyrics are said to have originated almost a century ago. more

‘We Shall Overcome’ Verse Not Under Copyright, Judge Rules

A crowd sings “We Shall Overcome” at a rally in Farmville, Va., in 1966. CreditThe New York Times

A federal judge on Friday struck down the copyright for part of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” saying that the song’s adaptation from an older work — including changing “will” to “shall” — was not original enough to qualify for protection. more