Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Don Cornelius Put Future African American Baby Boomers on the Dance Map
If you're an African-American baby boomer, you grew up with Don Cornelius and the Soul Train gang.
I was 14-years-old when the show made its debut. Before that I was a fan of American Bandstand and a local dance show out of Cleveland, OH---even though there were very few black faces.
I remember how excited I was to see people who looked like me on Soul Train dancing to the music I heard on the radio. Hearing my hometown music heroes, The O'Jays, singing the theme song and seeing someone I knew from high school dancing on the show kept me glued to my TV set every Saturday at noon.
Don Cornelius and Soul Train not only showcased the big stars, but we were also introduced to the up and coming talent and the blue-eyed soul of acts like Hall and Oates and Average White Band.
Who could forget the soul train scramble board or the dance line, where everyone became a star with their own unique style of dance? Soul Train became so popular at one point that some whites started complaining that they were being discriminated against because none of them were represented on the show.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Soul Train became the longest-running first-run nationally syndicated show in television history, bringing African American music and style to the world for 35 years.
Soul Train put future African-American baby boomers on the dance map in a mighty big way. I am sad to learn of the death of Don Cornelius but as he would say, "I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and SOOOOOUL!