Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Video: Don Cornelius Interviews Al Sharpton on Soul Train, 1974

Don and wife Victoria Cornelius (
February 2, 2012 - Sherman Oaks CA - The entertainment world lost another legend. There is sad news today that the legendary Don Cornelius, 75, died this morning of a gunshot wound that might have been self-inflicted.

Cornelius created and then hosted the "Soul Train" TV show for many years, which showcased many popular music acts. Both black and white acts were featured on Soul Train, and many went on to become superstars. As we see in the video below, however, Cornelius was about more than music.

In 1974, singing legend James Brown was a guest and Cornelius chatted with him about the civil rights movement. What Brown said will surprise some of you, and it's worth watching. The real departure from music comes at 2:05 in the video, when Cornelius introduces 19-year old Al Sharpton, "an astounding young brother." This, of course, was many years before Shaprton helped perpetuate the  Tawana Brawley false rape accusations against white police officers.(Story continues after video)

Cornelius and Soul Train quickly became cultural icons and influencers of the music industry, particularly with the young black audience, but many white kids loved the show too. I was one of those white kids, who enjoyed the music and pageantry of Soul Train as much as I enjoyed other shows of the day, such as "American Bandstand" with Dick Clark.

Here is a typical "line dance" segment, one of the most popular features of Soul Train (story continues after video):

Don Cornelius's life took a sad turn in his later years. ABC News notes that in 2008, Cornelius was arrested for felony domestic violence "against his estranged wife, Victoria Avila-Cornelius. In 2009, he plead no contest to one count of “corporal injury resulting in traumatic condition of a spouse,” was put on probation for 36 months, and ordered to pay over $1,000 in fines. She also filed multiple restraining orders against him."

ABC also noted that Quincy Jones said, “Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius,” and, “His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched.  My heart goes out to Don’s family and loved ones.”

Check out "The Official Page of Victoria Cornelius" for more news and information.
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