The Long Shadow of Slavery

A confronting - and deeply personal - look at the roots of racial division in the US.


Belfast Cabbie

“We still live under the long shadow of the plantation. Indeed, freedoms have been spread to a larger group of people over time, but that spread has been at the cost of ongoing oppression of black people in ways that have become very apparent thanks to video cams and cell phones that betray the brutality of the police state that we sometimes live in as black people.”

Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. These are names familiar across the world: the names of African-American men – three of many – who died after being shot by white men. Those who shot them have all been acquitted of their deaths, sparking national outrage and re-igniting the old debate on racial profiling and civil rights.

In this episode of Life & Faith, we asked Professor Albert J. Raboteau from Princeton University, an expert in the African-American religious experience, to walk us through the history of race relations in the US, and the deep roots of racial division – from the plantations to the Black Lives Matter movement today.

But he’s not just an expert – Professor Raboteau has lived the reality of racism as well:

“My father was killed by a white man in Mississippi, three months before I was born. The white man who killed him was never tried. He claimed self-defence and he wasn’t indicted even. … When I was 17 and getting ready to go off to college, [my mother and stepfather] sat me down and, for the first time, explained to me what had happened.  They said, ‘The reason we didn’t tell you before was we didn’t want you to grow up hating white people’.”

For The Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined is in cinemas from May 9. Buy tickets, or host your own screening:

Professor Albert J. Raboteau’s latest book, American Prophets
Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice, is available to purchase here:

This episode of Life & Faith was first broadcast on 2 March 2017.