How 'Soul Train' Created And Helped Preserve Black Culture

jocelyn banks and fred gamble on soul train
Briona Lamback
August 31, 2023

Beneath glowing disco balls, dancing bell bottoms, and Afro Sheen-laced fros shaped to perfection, Soul Train was much more than the “hippest trip in America.” It was a movement that went beyond the glitz and glam of entertainment.

Every Saturday morning for over three decades, people watched at home as Soul Train’s dancers invented some of the most iconic moves of the era. Our history and culture were interwoven into segments like the Soul Train scramble board.

Soul Train epitomized ‘for us, by us,’ and our people thrived on stage and behind the camera. Host Don Cornelius was strategic about hiring talented Black folks in every aspect of production.

Despite all the “love, peace, and soul,” the show never shied away from addressing the realities of the turmoil of anti-Blackness around them, so they made space for community leaders to make appearances and give crucial speeches.

From inventing the Soul Train line to encouraging the expression of our natural beauty, the show gave our folks the uninterrupted space to exist in all the glory of our Blackness. When we intentionally create spaces for joy, it naturally lends to various opportunities for our communities.

From inventing the Soul Train line to encouraging the expression of our natural beauty, the show gave our folks the uninterrupted space to exist in all the glory of our Blackness. When we intentionally create spaces for joy, it naturally lends to various opportunities for our communities.