Burst of Inspiration

In “This Far by Faith,” Juan Williams and Quinton Dixie document the progression and variation of faith practiced by black people from the times of slavery to today.

Williams provides an extensive study of African-American religious history. The book begins with the Middle Passage and documents the evolution of religious practices and influences from the first black churches, black nationalism and the civil rights movement to the influence of eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Williams also examines the Five Percenters that originated in the 1970s and the origins of contemporary gospel music artists such as Kirk Franklin.

And Williams is no stranger to writing companion novels. He wrote the companion volume to “Eyes on the Prize,” an award-winning PBS documentary and “This Far by Faith” is a companion to another PBS series of the same name.

Although Williams touches on a variety of time periods, he focuses on how the religious experience has inspired and provided the foundation for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Williams examines the role of the church and the black pastors of the time. The book’s description on amazon.com said Williams “reveals the deep religious conviction that empowered a people viewed as powerless to blaze a path to freedom and deliverance, to stand and be counted in this one nation under God.”

The book informs readers about religious activists such as William J. Seymour, the founder of the American Pentecostal movement and Charles H. Mason and Charles Price Jones, who were both starters of the Church of God in Christ.

Williams also uses visuals to convey his message. He includes historical and modern photographs to complement the contemporary interviews. “This Far by Faith” features messages from some of today’s foremost religious leaders. Aside from pictures of black congregations, there are photographs of sit-ins, voting booths and images of lynching.

Within the chronological chapters of short stories, there are also references to historical events, biographies of prominent religious leaders.

“This Far by Faith” is educational because it captures the timeline of the religious progression of black people in 336 pages of stories and graphics. This book was published by Amistad Press on Dec. 23, 2003 and is available at www.amazon.com.

Compiled by Russell NicholsSources: amazon.com