I was at work sitting in the break room checking my Facebook when I found out via my newsfeed that Don Cornelius had died today, in an apparent suicide. Just in case you’re totally un-hip and an unprecedented BAMMA, Don Cornelius created “Soul Train” back in the early 1970s and for decades it was the #1 place on TV to showcase Black Music and all other elements of Black Culture, from, fashion, hairstyles, language, dance, etc. Go check it out on Youtube and get your entire life!
It was such a shock that I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. All the air was knocked out of me. The legendary creator and host of Soul Train was gone, and in such a sad way. I said a quick prayer for a Peaceful Journey, hoping that whatever sadness enveloped him to the point of suffocation had finally released him in transition. Depression hurts, y’all. Sometimes folks believe that killing themselves is the only way to make the pain go away. Please remember to Love. Always in every way.
Then I started to think about what the iconic Black dance & music show Soul Train has meant to me in my life. It was a very vivid and important part of my early childhood. I remember that the very first time I’d ever laid eyes on Michael Jackson, it was when he was performing on Soul Train with his brothers. I think I was about 4 or 5 years old, so it had to have been 1977 or 1978 and I knew in that moment that I was in Love. Whatever Love means to a preschooler. But outside of that heart & soul-defining moment, I remember that Soul Train was the show that we watched on Saturdays after cartoons went off and we got to see all the singers and bands that we listened to on the radio and on albums any other time. This a period of time before music videos, so Soul Train is how I found out that Black artists were amazing and beautiful to look at. As I got a little older, I was REALLY into the hair/makeup/fashion of the women I saw dancing on Soul Train. Black Girls shaking their Groove Thang and being oh so flyy in the process! So much inspiration for a little Black Girl trying to find her beauty in the sea of Whiteness that is mainstream American media. Yes, Soul Train was as much a part of my growing up as double-dutch and roller skating were. Soul Train taught me to Body Roll! To this day, whenever I hit the dance floor and get into a good groove, I like to imagine myself as some Better Than Everything Black Girl dancing on Soul Train. Twirlin’. Dippin’ Low & Bringin’ It Back Up. We all have the innovation of Mr.Don Cornelius for that. I am so grateful for the legacy that he leaves behind. Thank you.
Here’s a clip I found of Mr.Don Cornelius going down the Soul Train Line, TWICE. He says it was his very first time! The man had some moves! Check it out: