The 21st Show

The Black Church In Illinois



Since this country’s founding, the Black Church has been the spiritual, political and cultural foundation of African-American life, yet for many Americans, it’s influences are a mystery. That mystery is being unraveled in the PBS 4-hour series: The Black Church. This is Our Story. This is Our Song. It debuts February 16 and 17 on most PBS stations, including WILL-TV in Champaign-Urbana.

Today, we're talking with three leaders about the influence of African-American churches in Illinois and exploring the music that has resonated out of this American institution.


Adrian Johnson, Pastor of Ward African Methodist Epicospal Church, Peoria 

Joshua West, Pastor of Zion Missionary Baptist, the oldest Black church in Springfield, founded in 1838

John L. Smith, Pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, the oldest Black church in Chicago, founded in 1850






Prepared for web by Reginald Hardwick

Help shape our coverage on The 21st by joining our texting group and answering weekly questions. To join, text “TALK” to 217-803-0730 or sign up with your phone number below: