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Tavis Smiley

Cornelius SAVED Black Culture

2/1/2012 4:50 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Talk show host Tavis Smiley believes "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius was responsible for saving black culture in the 70s and 80s -- telling TMZ, the late producer was "our cultural ambassador" in that era.

Tavis tells us, "Don Cornelius was our cultural ambassador when black music, when black dance, when black fashion were under-appreciated in this country."

Tavis adds, "I think that Don Cornelius' real contributions were never really appreciated ... Sometimes, it takes something tragic like this to really appreciate the contributions one has made ... I hate to see it happen like this ... He will be missed."

If you don't recognize the other guy in the clip -- shame on you -- it's famed activist and philosopher Dr. Cornel West ... who adds, "I just pray for his family. I love Brother Don Cornelius."

94 COMMENTS

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1.

jay in princeton    

that is cornell west in the background! we miss you in princeton cornell. keep helping OWS.saturday mornings i watched soultrain, i was so young, i think it came on at 11am in california. i cant remember. but i loved the dancers, hair, good looking black girls, the clothes and the music. first time i ever saw break dancing was st. i remember it had like a american bandstand, MTV lake havasu, group dance, and in the middle a big name act, then a group dance again. i may be wrong. his voice, and suits were my favorites. rest in peace, dc, your out of pain. peace, out, bird

933 days ago
2.

static    

Yet he was married to a white woman go figure.

933 days ago
3.

noel    

I agree. Stop dissing and turning your backs on black women. OJ, Kobe, Tiger, Gary Coleman, now Cornelius...the list will go on and on. Do right by us first.

933 days ago
4.

dd    

All races were welcome on Soul Train, the requirement was rhythm.......

933 days ago
5.

LittleBIt    

If black people hate white people so damn much, why do so many black men marry white women?????????????????????????

933 days ago
6.

Janet    

This is so tragic! An American icon is gone. I feel desperately sorry for both him and his family and of course, all of us fans. Pray for him to find peace where he is now and send him loving thoughts of gratitude. If only he'd known how much he was respected!

933 days ago
7.

Michael Jackson Was A Pedo    

Yeah Cornelius was a great black role model. I especially appreciate the way he beat his wife and was convicted of spousal abuse a few years back. Now that's a strong black role model that everybody should admire. I'm guessing the woman deserved it, right?

933 days ago
8.

NickSunset    

He killed himself and married a white woman and beat her. He saved Black Culture really?

933 days ago
9.

wisey    

Soul Train was ground breaking. Black culture televised once a week into suburban homes all over the country. Easily one of my all time favorite shows.

933 days ago
10.

mikeh420    

Don saved Black Culture just so thugs like Tavis and Cornel could trash it.

RIP Don 'Mr Soul Train!' Cornelius

933 days ago
11.

Shawn    

Don Cornelius RIP you brought some funk to the TV and broke out many artist and the voice was coooooool!

933 days ago
12.

nof    

Tavis is a brilliant dude.


-What he writes and says here is astonishingly true.


-Whites were finding the Black Culture threatening in the late 60's -


--As evidenced by a riot which followed one of my last high school basketball games -


Between a White school from the suburbs - and a Black
Urban school.


Equally talented/powerful/matched on the basketball floor.


A riot followed a closely matched contest - Whites beaten up in a Black city and at a Black School.


-But just like Tavis has said so brilliantly:


CUT TO (early 70's):

Don Cornelius and "Soul Train" taking the steam out of a bitter period -


-Helping us all relax.


Made White People appreciate African-Americans from afar.


-A dance show revolving around not just talent - but humor.


...Until I read Tavis' remarks here - this was Lost on me.


Thanks, dude.

933 days ago
13.

Steinberg    

saved black culture but married to a hot white woman.

Way to go saving black culture Cornelius!

933 days ago
14.

FABIO    

Judging by his taste in women, I guess Don always believed that "white is right".

933 days ago
15.

WellSinceYouDidntAsk    

The late Don C. did not save black music for it to be ruined by rap and hip hop street thug noise. If modern afro sounds were not audio poison, then Soul Train would have lasted.

933 days ago
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