One of the greatest of the many gifts my parents gave me was my appreciation for music. Part of my musical education was our weekly, family viewing of Soul Train. For a white kid growing up in a small, Kansas college town, the show opened my eyes to not only a different kind of music than was commonly played in Hays, KS1, but also to the broader world in general. There were people out there who looked different than me, talked different than me, dressed different than me. Soul Train helped my parents teach me that while there are all kinds of different people around the world, we’re all humans and worthy of respect.

Don Cornelius, the man behind Soul Train, took his own life yesterday. I know I wasn’t the only person of my generation, of all backgrounds, that was influenced by his creation. Thank you, Don.

But for the most part Mr. Cornelius didn’t preach about civil rights or the marvels of African-American art. He was manifesting them. With a smile he’d sign off each show wishing his audiences “love, peace and soul.”

  1. Not to mention an important balance to shows like Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk, which were weekend staples at my grandparents’ homes