University alumnus Henry Hampton’s This Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys will air on PBS June 24-26 at 8 p.m. each night.
Each night will feature two one-hour segments.
In six hours of dramatic storytelling, This Far by Faith examines the African-American religious experience. From the arrival of the early African slaves through the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Era, and into the 21st century, the documentary explores the connections between faith and the development of African-American cultural values.
Lorraine Toussaint (Any Day Now, Crossing Jordan) narrates the series.
Sometime this month, University Libraries will acquire all of the materials used in making This Far by Faith. The materials will be added to the 33,000 items from Hampton’s archive, which University Libraries acquired in May 2001.
Hampton (1940-1998), a St. Louis native who, after graduating from the University in 1961, went on to become one of the world’s most respected documentary filmmakers, founded and ran Blackside Productions, the United States’ largest African-American owned documentary film production company. His work focused on the lives of the poor and disenfranchised and chronicled the 20th century’s great political and social movements.
This Far by Faith is the last project conceptualized by Hampton, whose contributions to television include America’s War on Poverty and the Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winning Eyes on the Prize and American Experience “Malcolm X: Make It Plain.”
Each one-hour episode of This Far by Faith combines rich archival photography, compelling music, inspiring interviews and vibrant re-creations to shed light on a population that has confronted adversity and clung to hope since the first enslaved peoples arrived on these shores.
The first hour, “There Is a River,” begins with the stories of Sojourner Truth and Denmark Vesey.
Hour two, “God Is a Negro,” takes place after Emancipation, when minister-turned-journalist Henry McNeal Turner uses the African-American church to engage African-American people in the political realm.
Hour three, “Guide My Feet,” begins in the Jim Crow era, when many African-Americans migrated north.
Hour four, “Freedom Faith,” follows the Civil Rights Movement in the years after World War II.
Hour five, “Inheritors of the Faith,” plots the growth of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad.
The series concludes with hour six, “Rise Up and Call Their Names,” which chronicles a two-year interfaith, multiracial, multiethnic pilgrimage from Massachusetts to Africa — by way of Florida and the Caribbean — undertaken to heal the wounds of slavery.
For more information on the Hampton Collection, go to library.wustl.edu/units/spec/filmandmedia.