The spirit in the struggle: Significance of church, worship in the black community

The Black Church is more than a building. For centuries, it has been a safe house for the soul. Its roots run deep to the dark soil of slavery and birthed songs not just of religion but of resistance.
5:17 | 06/20/20

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Transcript for The spirit in the struggle: Significance of church, worship in the black community
For generations of African-American families there's one place we've always felt safe, can share happiness and pain, healing and tears lost in celebration, sometimes all at once. The funeral for George Floyd offered a window into where for many of us, the church is home. Praise hallelujah somebody praise him hallelujah You have no right to put your knee on that neck. Last week, the world watched George Floyd's funeral and witnessed what black America has long known -- the black church is more than a building. For centuries it's been a safehouse to the soul. We weren't allowed to communicate, so when we could get together down by the Riverside late in the evening when the work was over and call on our gods. It's where it all came together. The slaves gained their freedom, the early black church became a place of resistance. Resistance that moved from the sanctuary to the streets. The civil rights movement of the 1960s, driven by the power of the church. Reverend Calvin is a pastor at this church in Harlem. With the complexities the black church celebrated for 200 years. The church provided social cohesion. It was the first place of economic development. It was the first place of politics. Who was the major spokesperson? Generally the preacher. Often overlooked, the voice of women in the church. There are so many unsung or underrated black female, both clergy and laywomen. If it weren't for the women doing thfundraisers and the women doing the praying and the women holding up the pastors, where would the church be? The separateness of the black church from the white church was in part dictated by segregation. Martin Luther king summed it uppen meet the press. One of the shames is Sunday at 11:00 A.M. In the morning is one of the most segregated if not the most segregated hour in Christian America. But today mega churches thrive through diversity in their congregations. For me, the future is black voices and white voices. We're a different America now. You have so many churches that welcome blacks and whites to worship together, to work together. Malcolm once said, if you got a cup of black coffee, it's strong, and if you want to make it weak, put a little cream in it. Too black, too strong. He might not be wrong, because preaching comes out of preaching comes out of experience. We need all kinds of coffee, I know a few years ago you got in trouble in circles when you said in front of the pulpit black lives matter. Someone explained you have to say all lives matter. I said, why would I do that? All lives are not in question right now. Black lives are. So around here we're going to say all lives matter. What kind of pushback did you get? A lot of white silence in every way. Power of the people don't stop! A contrast to '60s. Founders to the black lives matter movement are not clergy or men. I look to the black lives matter and others and I hear people asking, where today is the black church? Still here. And still important say young activists like 16-year-old Chelsea Moreton, daughter of a pastor. We remember all those unarmed and murders while being black by police. Black lives matter may not be clergy led but I see the splashes of spirituality. I see the faith that is within the people, because that faith, that drives people to hope and it drives people to fight and drives people to move forward and say, no more. Isaiah 1 says that we as which I say chances have to do good, second justice and correct oppression. Not everybody has to be on the front lines of a protest, but with your life you have to protest this. That's what being a Christian is. Sounds like Sunday 11:00 to me. Yes, sir. So, for centuries the black church has stood proud and in protest of promises denied and dreams deferred. When the dust settles and the smoke clears, there's going to be one central institution that's going to be key to people of African descent. That's the church.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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