Reflecting, Sharing, Learning

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

Athens-Clarke County Library
2025 Baxter Street
Athens, Georgia
706 613 3650

Premiere: February 16 and 23, 2021 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings)

This moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.

The series features interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, Cornel West, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Rev. William Barber II, BeBe Winans, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, and more.

Please also enjoy these videos from the ACCL Library video archives:

”A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History 40th Anniversary Edition” with Michael Thurmond, Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia.

A talk about Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church by his great-great-great-great-grandaughter Yvonne Studevan.

A conversation at the East Friendship Baptist Church with Pastor James Hendrick, Minister of Music Brenda Bellinger, & Athens historian Milton Leathers (Part 1 of 4).

A selection of songs by the Athens Voices of Truth Gospel Choir (part 3 of 4).

Rev AR Killian Interviewed by his biographer, Earnest Thompson. Rev Killian reminisces about Athens in the 50s and 60s, during the days of segregation in Athens, and his involvement in the era-defining integration of the University of Georgia.

A talk by ACC Librarian Martha Kapelewski about Vivian G. Harsh, first African American to be a branch manager in the Chicago Public Library System.

At the end of an eventful year, please join us for meditations on the month of December and its attendant holidays. Cold Verse features a host of local and regional poets reciting their favorite verses, including many original compositions.

Joe Alterman studied music at New York University, where he received both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Jazz Piano Performance. Alterman has performed at many world-renowned venues including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Birdland and New York’s Blue Note, where Alterman has opened, many times, for Ramsey Lewis. Alterman has released four critically-acclaimed albums, his most recent being 2018’s “More Cornbread”.

Bob Ambrose, Jr. is an environmental engineer retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development. He has been writing poetry since 2009 and has been active in the Athens, Georgia Word of Mouth community. Bob has been featured reader at events in Athens, Cincinnati, and Austin. He posts on his blog site “Reflections in Poetry.” His first book of poetry, Journey to Embarkation, was published in 2016 and is available at Avid Bookshop.

Donna O'Kelley Butler serves as the Branch Supervisor of the Bogart Library, where she entertains and enlightens hundreds of patrons, school children and teachers with her renditions of folktales, legends, myths and historical tales.

Michelle Castleberry is a writer and therapist living in Oconee County. Next year, she will open her own telemental health practice and hopefully improve her gardening.

Bowen Craig is a local writer and publisher. Co-founder of Bilbo Books Publishing and author of Keeping Away from the Joneses, Hitchhiking with Salmon and A Look to the Future Through the Eyes of an Eighty-Year-Old Pirate. He co-founded a local arts website with another writer and former library employee, Mark Katzman. He also runs a "high intellect comedy" essay website called Heretic Picayune, inspired by Nikola Tesla, Heretic Picayune is a home for articles which go against the grain of current thinking.

Bob Deck is a native Georgian but he also was career US Navy, moving 11 times in 20 years, living in Greece, Italy and Diego Garcia. He enjoys reading, exercise, and working at the Bogart Library.

Tammy Gerson may be a retired librarian, but she keeps busy with a multitude of projects. Besides her love of reading all genres, she participates in a contemporary musical ensemble at her synagogue. She loves drumming, cooking, and having fun with her Maltipoo, Luna. Tammy lives in Athens with her husband, and has two children and three grandchildren.

Juliana Gray’s third poetry collection is Honeymoon Palsy (Measure Press 2017). Her fiction has appeared in Hobart, and her humor writing has been featured in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.

Japhy Mitchell is a poet and librarian who lives with his dog Tarkovsky. His poems have been published in several online and print publications, including Scissors & Spackle, First Literary Review East, streetcake, and more.

Alice Mohor was born and raised in New Jersey, but has lived in Athens since 1972. She taught in several Clarke County schools. Alice wrote a rhyming poem to open and close each of her elementary physical education lessons, and continues to write and has published two books of poetry.

Jay Morris is an Athens native currently based in Atlanta, GA. While in Athens, he was heavily involved in the poetry scene -- often reading at events hosted by Athens Word of Mouth, Spoken Word UGA, and various community organizations. Jay also co-founded and hosted the Goetry Open Mic series at Go Bar before moving to Atlanta. He finds that yoga, cooking, writing, listening to music, and video chatting with friends have helped breathe a little light into life while sheltering in place.

David Oates has 30 years experience teaching writing. He hosts the “Wordland” radio show on WUGA in Athens GA. He is the author of two collections, Drunken Robins and Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, and over 100 of his poems have been published in magazines. He is the emcee of Athens Word of Mouth Poetry. Oates received his master’s in creative writing from the University of Illinois—Chicago.

Joy Ovington has enjoyed a lifetime of working in all aspects of performing and holds an MFA from the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Professional Actor Training. Favorite roles include Witch #3 in MacBeth and Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. While not working in Library Administration, she enjoys choir singing and working with theatre companies around town.

Clela Reed is the author of seven collections of poetry. Recently Silk (Evening Street Press, 2019) won the Helen Kay Chapbook Prize and then the 2020 Georgia Author of the Year in chapbook competition. A Pushcart Prize nominee, former English teacher, and Peace Corps volunteer, she has poetry published in many journals and anthologies.

Theresa Rice has served as a creative consultant to artists, writers, and arts organizations. She has done all manner of writing, from press releases to novels, catalog copy to short stories. She loves old fashioned poets like Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, and Walt Whitman.

Lorraine Thompson is the Head of Drama at Athens Academy in Athens, Ga. In addition to being a theatre educator, she is also a published playwright, storyteller, and actor. She LOVES sweaters.

Eddie Whitlock manages the Library Store and coordinates volunteers for the Athens-Clarke County Library. He is the author of two books: Evil is Always Human (2012) and POTUS of the Living Dead (2014). He is currently working on a sequel to his first novel.

Take a look at the video of our 2020 Listening in The Dark VII: Spooky Stories for Grownups - a brand NEW virtual program, featuring scary stories from Tracy Adkins, Bob Deck, Joy Ovington, Eddie Whitlock, and Candace Wiggins! You can find it HERE.

And while you’re at it, check out a new video of our Halloween program from 2018 HERE!



Listening in the Dark rises once again from the grave to celebrate its fifth birthday at Athens-Clarke County Library. Librarians and special guests will curdle your blood with original and traditional horror stories: Bogart Librarian Donna Butler will freeze you to the bone, Athens-Clarke County Library volunteer Coordinator Eddie Whitlock will read an original short story, retired librarian Jacqueline Elsner will have you on the edge of your seat, and actor and library friend Kelly McGlaun Fields makes chill bumps come up.

Listening in The Dark VII: (From a Safe Distance)

Tracy Adkins
Bob Deck
Eddie Whitlock
Candace Wiggins

Athens-Clarke County Library
2025 Baxter Street
Athens, Georgia
706 613 3650

Premiere: Thursday, October 29, 2020

It’s not easy coming up with a program scarier than everyday life, but if you’d like a distraction from the pandemic, please tune into our seventh annual Halloween Storytelling for Grownups (From a Safe Distance) beginning on Thursday, October 29!

Athens author Candace Wiggins tells her original rural southern ghost story “Haint;” Tracy Adkins will read a selection from her book, Ghosts of Athens: History and Haunting of Athens, Georgia; ACCL Library Store Manager Eddie Whitlock will tell a spooky original tale; and Bob Deck from the Bogart Library tells “Ave Maria,” the story of a disembodied soprano.

This year we be online only, with the program accessible from the Reflecting, Sharing, Learning web page. We’ll also be posting videos from the last two years’ Offerings, Listening in The Dark VI: Revenge of The Creeps, and Listening in The Dark on Haunted Hill.


Tracy L. Adkins is the author of Ghosts of Athens: History and Haunting of Athens, Georgia (2016). She is currently working on a sequel, More Ghosts of Athens, as well as the upcoming book, Ghosts of Asheville (2020). She is an enthusiastic member of the board of the Friends of the Winterville Library. Other hobbies include writing narrative fiction, poetry, screenplays, and software instructions.

Bob Deck is a native Georgian but he also was career US Navy, moving 11 times in 20 years, living in Greece, Italy and Diego Garcia. He enjoys reading, exercise, and working at the Bogart Library.

Eddie Whitlock manages the Library Store and coordinates volunteers for the Athens-Clarke County Library. He is the author of two books: Evil is Always Human (2012) and POTUS of the Living Dead (2014). He is currently working on a sequel to his first novel.

Candace Wiggins first published in the online crime zine, “Hardluck Stories”; while writing art and movie columns for various newspapers and working at CNN, TBS and Reuters. She has stories in anthologies from Planet X Publications, including “The Phantasmagorical Promenade”; “Strange Stories From the Sea”; “Test Patterns: Weird Westerns”; and many others. She’s had stories published in The AWA Collective straight outta Athens, Georgia and co-wrote a script, “Eidolon”.


Athens Regional Library System · 2025 Baxter Street, Athens, GA 30606 · 706-613-3650 · Contact us