The practice of communal outdoor baptism was—and in some cases still is—a central community event among both black and white evangelical churches in America. This home movie footage from Oklahoma, filmed in the mid-1920s by Reverend S. S. Jones, a minister and businessman who lived in the region, provides a penetrating view into the spiritual lives of people in the state’s many booming African-American towns. Rev. Jones had deep connections to the lives of those gathered around the water for the event, allowing him to record up close an event that some of the congregants may have remembered as among their lives’ most important moments.
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This footage is from the film archive of the Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture. Read more about the new museum in "Black America’s Story, Told Like Never Before"
Rev. S. S. Jones Home Movie Collection
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Gift of Naomi Long Madgett
Rare Footage: Hundreds Gather at a 1920s African-American Baptism | National Geographic
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