We have a story about how Black churches are bringing the internet to their communities and making a big difference. We’re going to learn about their work to close the digital divide right now.
Trouble in the beginning
A lot of Black churches had a hard time when the pandemic hit. It was hard to switch to online meetings or services because many places didn’t have good internet access. Imagine that your church tried to livestream services but some people couldn’t watch because their internet connection was too slow or didn’t work at all. In 2020, the Pew Research Center did a study that showed 53% of historically Black people could watch online but only 92% of some Christians could do the same.
Now let’s go back in time to the present day, especially in the rural South. There, 38% of black households don’t have broadband, while only 23% of white households don’t.
Leaders of faith in Black Churches taking the lead
Now this is where things get interesting: rural Southern Black clergy and religious leaders in Black Churches have had a goal for a long time. They are putting in a lot of effort to close this digital divide in their towns. In times like the pandemic, they know how important it is for everyone to be able to connect to the internet.
Boost from the Government Program
What do you think? The government began a project called the Affordable Connectivity Program. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was in charge of it. People who join the program can save money on internet access and even get laptops, desktops, or tablets for less money. You can get it if your family makes less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Line or if you get certain public benefits.
Obstacles on the Way
Okay, now here’s the thing. That’s great that more than 21 million homes have signed up for this program. One interesting fact is that about 49 million Americans could benefit, but not all of them have. That means more people could use this help but haven’t signed up yet.
Okay, now there’s some worry. Some people are not sure if Congress will continue to fund this program over time. That’s kind of like asking, “Will the help keep coming?”, since these projects need ongoing support to keep everyone in touch.
Why it’s Important
It is very important to close the digital divide. Just think about how much we use the web for work, school, and staying in touch with family and friends. Everyone should be able to feel free to drive on this information and chance superhighway.
Think about if your church could share the good vibes online with everyone, no matter where they are. This whole thing is about making sure that everyone can join in, learn, and stay in touch.
To the Black churches and faith leaders who work hard to make the internet available to everyone, here’s to you. As they work to close the digital divide, let’s keep supporting them!