Ethics, Society, & Culture
Black History: 1619 to Civil War (video)

Black History: 1619 to Civil War (video)

In this episode, hosts Jim Davis and Justin Holcomb welcome Ligon Duncan in the first of a two-part discussion of the history of black people in America. Duncan begins with the onset of chattel slavery in 1619 and carries us all the way to the Civil War. Understanding these historical realities will help white believers both understand how they still play a part in our cultural moment and grow a greater empathy for our black brothers and sisters. The group discusses:

  • Introduction and background for Ligon (1:10)
  • How chattel slavery began (2:43)
  • Africans selling other Africans into slavery (8:40)
  • Tribal identity and the slave trade (11:27)
  • Conditions on slave ships (13:30)
  • Impact of slavery on the early colonies (17:53)
  • Slave Codes (23:00)
  • How the Bible was misused to support slavery (27:07)
  • People and movements that fueled abolition (33:34)
  • How slavery and segregation affected the development of churches and denominations (38:00)
  • The fundamental purpose of the Civil War (43:53)
  • The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and Dred Scott v. Sandford (48:21)
  • Ligon Duncan’s personal journey (52:13)


1. When you think about the timeframe 1619 to the Civil War, what is the narrative you learned? Where did slavery fit into that narrative? How was it talked about?

2. What were attitudes underlying slavery? Did you grow up with arguments or justifications for it? If yes, what arguments were used to justify it? Was the Bible used in these justifications? If so, how?

3. How do you hear people talk about slavery today?

4. What effects did slavery have on the church? How have those effects lasted until today?