Love, Peace and Soul

Today is the first day of African-American History Month. It’s also the day the world learned that Don Cornelius, the creator and most famous host of Soul Train, committed suicide.

I hadn’t thought about Cornelius in ages, but Soul Train was huge for us kids of the ’70s and ’80s. I’m about as Caucasian as they come, and my parents’ tastes in music have never been…funky. Soul Train was my primary introduction to Afro-American music and, more importantly, culture. Soul Train was a direct result of  the Civil Rights Movement and “Black is Beautiful.” It didn’t just showcase Black music and Black dancing, it showed African-Americans proudly being themselves. They had big afros. They wore stylish clothes (that would probably be called “urban” today) and African-influenced fashions. They were proudly and joyously not trying to fit in to “mainstream” White culture. (As I remember it, Soul Train was also free of a lot of the clownish caricatures of African-Americans that sadly dominated much of American TV and movies of the time.) Soul Train was unapologetically in your face without being confrontational and angry. Soul Train was Black Pride while also being inclusive and multi-cultural. Soul Train was the embodiment of Emma Goldman’s “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Damn, it was cool and funky and beautiful!

I’m sad and sorry you felt you had to leave us, Don Cornelius. But your legacy lives on. I wish all of you love, peace…and soul.

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