Heard on the Hill

Grooving Down the ‘Soul Train’ Line

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (right) mourned the death of "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius on Wednesday and said his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson (left), helped the show become a hit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional tributes for Don Cornelius, creator and host of the iconic dance show “Soul Train,” rolled in Wednesday after Cornelius was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Not one to let a political moment pass by, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. wrote that he is both very sad about Cornelius’ passing and pretty sure that his father had a role in the show’s big success. “Soul Train’s self-described ‘hippest trip’ was one of the longest running shows on television, in part, thanks to the efforts of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Operation PUSH,” the Illinois Democrat said in a statement.

Jackson recalls that after “Soul Train” began airing nationwide, forever young Dick Clark, whom you may know from such classic television programing as “American Bandstand” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” created a short-lived show that targeted young blacks who liked to dance.

In Jackson’s view, the show, “Soul Unlimited,” was an existential threat to “Soul Train.”

Here’s the story: “Rev. [Jesse] Jackson invited Dick Clark and Don Cornelius to come to Chicago’s Operation PUSH, and he urged Mr. Clark not to drive ‘Soul Train’ out of business,” Jackson said. “And, to his credit, [Clark] agreed.”

“Soul Unlimited” was unpopular on TV, but that’s neither here nor there.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), on the other hand, focused her remarks on Cornelius’ life as a journalist, host, producer and writer.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend Don Cornelius,” Waters said in her statement. “I will forever be indebted to him for his vital role in the perpetuation and preservation of Black culture in America and making people proud to be Black. [He] was a great friend, genius and purveyor of Black culture and he will truly be missed.”

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