From the hundreds of musicians that performed on “Soul Train” to the millions of viewers who tuned in every weekend, Don Cornelius’ vision to give Black America a platform to share our music our way became so much more than that. It opened doors for black ad agencies and black products and showed mainstream media the power of black consumerism.
When Sid McCoy told us “Soul Train” was “brought to you by Ultra Sheen, Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen Cosmetics,” that meant something special.
I knew Don and marveled at his genius as an executive producer and marketing man. He made it look much smoother and easier than it possibly could have been when he was in front of the camera, and anyone who spent time with him knew he was a hard driving perfectionist. But he also was a living legend who got a chance to see the impact his creation had on African-American culture and beyond.
In November of 2010, I wrote a blog paying tribute to the “hippest trip in America” and what it meant to us. I sure hope Don read it.
The world has a changed a lot since “Soul Train” debuted in 1971. Kids today will never know what it’s like to have to wait a full week to watch one program that almost every other black person you knew was watching at the exact same time. You couldn’t record it. You couldn’t rewind it. It was a truly hip experience, brought to us by a man whose death was a personal loss for me.
I thank him for the ride.