Nashville Public Television’s The Black Church Digital Mapping Project is an interactive website through which visitors may explore the history and settings of Nashville’s Black churches. The site, accessible at wnpt.org/the-black-church-map, aims to educate our community about the contributions made by Black houses of worship to local and American history.
This project was inspired by The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, the original PBS series produced by Henry Louis Gates Jr. NPT contacted more than 20 Black houses of worship in Nashville that were established between 1800 and the 1960s and that are still in existence today. The churches included in The Black Church Digital Mapping Project opted into the project by responding to NPT’s request for information and gave permission for the use of information, imagery and videos.
NPT’s digital team then incorporated those elements into the interactive map using design concepts similar to those in the title treatment they created for Facing North: Jefferson Street, Nashville, which premiered in September 2020.
Congregations wishing to submit information for inclusion in NPT’s digital map are invited to do so at bit.ly/addchurchNPT.
To be included, churches must:
- Have been established by or for Black people.
- Have been established between 1800 and the 1960s and still exist today.
- Be located in Metro Nashville/Davidson County.
The Black Church Digital Mapping Project website includes a recording of the virtual screening event NPT hosted in February 2021. This free event included clips from the PBS series along with a discussion centered around Nashville’s Black faith communities. LaTonya Turner, producer of NPT’s Facing North: Jefferson Street, Nashville, moderated the discussion about Nashville’s African American religious history, music and culture featuring the Rev. Judy Cummings, D.Min., public justice theologian and retired pastor of the historic New Covenant Christian Church; Dr. Dennis Dickerson, professor of African American religious history at Vanderbilt University; Dr. Steven Lewis, curator, National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM); and Dr. Carroll Van West, Tennessee State Historian and director of the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU.
Short videos and clips from The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song series are available to stream at video.wnpt.org. The complete four-hour series will remain available to NPT Passport members through February 2025. Additional broadcasts of the series are also likely.
The Black Church Digital Mapping Project was produced by Kayla Todd, LaTonya Turner and Rosemary Brunton with graduate research assistant October Kamara. The digital map developers are Shane Burkeen, Joe DelMerico and Kyle Sweet.
Funding for NPT’s The Black Church Digital Mapping Project was provided by WETA. Major corporate support for The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song was provided by Johnson & Johnson. Major support was also provided by Lilly Endowment Inc., Ford Foundation, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, and public television viewers.