A painting of a Black person with a long neck and green hair. Their eyes are closed and they are looking up at the sky. They have bright red lips and are in front of a starry sky

Black religious practices have long been tied to liberation movements, and these stories of worship, grief, and prayer trace long histories of Black religion.

During the pandemic, Dr. Crystal Green, an international psychologist and project manager, fed Washington, DC's homeless community as a part of her church's "Welcome Table Breakfast Program." Church of the Epiphany in Washington, DC, led by Rev. Glenna J. Huber, feeds 200 people every week as a part of their mission to help their homeless neighbors and be a force for good in the neighborhood. Dr. Green was there every Sunday for years, including 2020 and 2021, in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Choose Healthy Life is an organization of Black churches working together to combat health disparities faced by the black community. Church clergy and leaders work with local healthcare organizations to address the community directly and tackle tangible health goals that decrease morbidity and mortality. Church leaders also use the trust and standing that they have with their communities to raise awareness on relevant health issues and reach out to the community to provide support and health resources.

Religion, Health

The Black Churches Project trains church teachers and tutors to help fill the gaps in the education that black students receive. Historically black students and the school districts that serve them have been underfunded but black churches are uniquely poised to reach a large number of students and provide them with resources they may not receive in school such as paying for field trips and offering courses in specialized subjects like computer science. The church also provides a space to learn spiritual and moral education to encourage the children to stay in the school system while also combining spiritual and scientific learning in harmony.

Education, Religion

The Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools Program provides summer and after-school programs for K-12 schools in underserved communities. The program held at Providence Baptist Church serves majority black students in Greensboro, NC. The program also engages parent and family involvement and focuses on fostering nutritional and mental health. The Freedom Schools Programs are hosted by hundreds of organizations across the country to reach thousands of students and foster good pedagogy.

Education, Religion

A.P.I.D.T.A is a song written by Jay Electronica featuring Jay Z which reflects on grief and mourning after the death of a loved one. Jay Electronica wrote the song after the death of his mother in late 2019. The title is an acronym for “All Praise is Due to Allah”, an expression of gratitude that is commonly used by Muslims. The beat is slow and melancholic and the chorus lyrics are slightly off-beat, creating a disjointed effect. The act of reflection is emphasized by the fragmentation and repeating of some lyrics such as “I got numbers in my phone that’ll never ring again’” though despite the obvious sadness of many of the lyrics there is a tinge of acceptance that runs throughout the verses; “The flesh we roam this earth in is a blessing, not a promise/ I bow with those who bow to the creator and pay homage.”

Arts, Religion, Health

At Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson sang “Precious Lord,” honoring his last request to sing his favorite hymn. Written by Thomas Dorsey in 1932 after the death of his wife and newborn son, “Precious Lord” was also sung at Mahalia Jackson’s funeral by Aretha Franklin.

Arts, Religion

The Ifá tradition places food at the center of spirituality where it functions as spiritual medicine. Medicine in African traditions does not carry the same meaning as it does in the western world. In African religion, medicine is a mixture of specific materials and objects that, when combined, have the ability to affect power in the world. The preparation of specific types of food in the Ifá religion holds just as much weight as the food itself. The centrality of food unites the black diasporic experience, where social gatherings feature dishes that are descendants of traditional African dishes, like Jambalaya. Food also acts as a means of connecting to African history and spiritual practice, rooted in the physical experience of eating.

Foodways, Religion

The Black Church Food Security Network is an organization that was started at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD. The organization helps churches establish community gardens on their land, hosts mini farmer’s markets, and buy produce from black farmers to benefit the community. Churches around the US act as food hubs and distributors to serve their communities too. The BCFSN aims to improve the health and wealth of the African-American community through food and empower African-American people in the process.

Foodways, Protest, Religion

South African photographer Tsoku Maela uses his photography as a vessel to discuss what It is like to live with mental illness as well as to display his own experiences. His Abstract Peaces series evokes surreal imagery to depict isolation and dissociation but also the opportunity for growth. Maela believes that within the struggle of living with mental illness, there lies the possibility to rediscover oneself and that this idea (as well as what it is like to live with mental illness) needs to be communicated to black people to create a better understanding.

Arts, Health, Religion

God’s Way Christian Baptist Church, located in Taylor, Texas, organizes community dialogues and provides resources on mental health to the black community to combat stigma and increase awareness of mental health issues and steps forward. The ministers and pastors act as not only spiritual leaders but also as educators and organize dialogues to discuss topics such as the role of mental health in the criminal justice system to develop better responses from law enforcement. The Wellness and Empowerment Community Ministries initiatives create a strong space for inclusivity and empathy to educate the black community on mental health and foster a similar sense of community amongst multiple churches.

Religion, Education, Health