As just about everyone knows by now, Don Cornelius ended his life yesterday.
He had an enormous influence on millions of us with “Soul Train.” I’d say that it was even more important internationally as he presented the leading edge of culture to the world.
Don was perseverant, committed to his work, and had the longevity (on-air in five decades) that very few TV performer/producers were able to achieve.
No other African American has matched Don’s TV history.
“The Don’s” first job on TV was at WCIU, channel 26, in Chicago in 1969-70… predating “Soul Train.”
He was the sports anchor on “A Black’s View of the News,” the first nightly black news program in the country.
I was the original producer of the news broadcasts…my first job in TV also.
We have a bunch of the original documents from 1969-70 in our archive and present a couple of them to you today, remembering the significant contributions of Don Cornelius. (You can click any of the documents to make them bigger)
Almost every night, I wrote a “crit sheet” of the broadcast. Reading these, you can tell that I definitely had an attitude… as only know-it-all first time producers can have.
Only moments of Cornelius on WCIU exist on video, as it was the earliest days of videotape. Here’s a segment from a talk show of the same era, courtesy of Fuzzymemories.tv, who unearthed a short clip on 2″ quad videotape of Don.
We’re not sure if any footage of “A Black’s View of the News” exists anywhere.