“Get on Board,” one of the the rollicking themes from “Soul Train” could be the mantra of the National Museum of African American History and Culture as the future museum raises funds and collects artifacts.
It has decided to collect some artifacts from “the hippest trip in America,” officials announced Thursday. Next week a few items from the groundbreaking –and backbreaking, in some cases–weekly show of dance and music will be given to the museum.
For 37 years and more than 1,000 episodes, “Soul Train” spotlighted the latest dance moves born in the African American communities in its signature Soul Train dance line. And the dancing didn’t stop as the musical headliners of the time performed. On the stage were The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ike & Tina Turner, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Christina Aquilera, David Bowie, James Brown and John Legend.
The show first aired nationally in 1971, hosted by Don Cornelius, a Chicago disc jockey who took the show to Los Angeles, and into syndication. Cornelius had a thunderous voice, ending each show with a promise: “As always in parting, we wish you love, peace and SOUL!”
“From a scholarly point of view, this is one of those television shows that beamed African American cultural to the households of black and white America. It become of the early crossover shows. It dominated the black TV viewership of black teenagers. And then it impacted white households,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the museum. The New Jersey native added a personal note to the gift. “Like every black kid in America, I watched to see what the newest move was–even if I couldn’t do it.”