Speak to my Heart

Communities of Faith and 
Contemporary African American Life 

a virtual exhibit by the 

Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture


This exhibition is about faith and spiritual traditions in the African American community.  It is also about church efforts to combat hunger and homelessness.  It about the church as an agent of community and economic development. It is about education and entrepreneurship.  It explores gender roles.  It looks at ways in which liturgy, vestments, and decor have changed in order to be more reflective of African American culture.  It looks at the challenge of providing compassionate care to those living with HIV/AIDS.  This exhibit looks at congregations at work outside the walls of their sanctuaries---on the streets, in prisons, and in schools.

SPEAK TO MY HEART is about people, about African American searching for ways to bring deeper meaning to life while addressing the range of issues which affect them, their families, neighborhoods, and communities.   It is an examination of the collective will of religious leaders and an exploration of the ways in which individual belief shapes and changes African American history and culture.

While the exhibit focuses primarily on Christian churches and congregations, it also acknowledges the variety of religious traditions which are historically part of the African American experience including Islam, Black Hebrew, and African based-religions. Congregations may belong to African American denominations or be part of traditionally White denominations.  Each congregation defines its own rules, traditions, and group identity. Individuals take meaning from the particular character of their church or congregations.   The terms   "church" and "congregation" are used interchangeably to mean persons gathered together for worship, spiritual growth, and community support and are intended to be inclusive of all faiths and practices.

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