The studio's anxiety about "The Green Pastures" all-Black cast is evident in the film's 3:48 minute trailer. It consists of white actor Dick Powell talking directly to the camera, white workers preparing costumes and props, and author Marc Connelly explaining the rationale for the bare sets to a studio executive. Accrding to Connelley it is how a "simple, devout" people would imagine heaven. At no time are Rex Ingram or any of the film's stars shown in the preview and there is only a brief sequence of black extras in a long shot.
The original Broadway stage production won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It opened February 26, 1930, at the Mansfield Theatre in New York, and ran for 640 performances. Juanita Hall, who later played "Bloody Mary" in the stage and film versions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's classic South Pacific (1958), appeared in the original stage production.