5 Things We Learned From Don Cornelius

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Blogging at News One, Dr. Boyce Watkins highlights important lessons that Don Cornelius taught the black community, including how to start a business, how to educate and entertain audiences and how to create your own platforms.


1) How to start and build a business: “Soul Train” was not a show that some big corporation gave to Don Cornelius. It was his baby. Cornelius started off in Chicago with a hot local show and eventually took the show to national syndication. He saw a void in entertainment and filled it. He carried his dream to the national level, and now his vision remains a perpetual piece of Black entertainment history. Most of us have dreams, but most of those dreams die. Find your dream, learn how to create your dream, and then put your heart into building that dream. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

2) Edu-tainment really does work when it’s done properly: “Soul Train” did what BET’s “106& Park” should have done — it entertained Black people while encouraging us to develop our minds. I recall seeing the video of a 19-year old Rev. Al Sharpton on the show, and another with Jesse Jackson sporting the coolest Afro I’d ever seen. Don understood the importance of maintaining a double bottom line of social responsibility and corporate profitability, and he earned his millions conscientiously.

3) There is a lot of value in creating your own platforms: Most Black entertainers are excellent at performing their craft but know very little about the business models that bring their work to a wider audience. Rather than hoping that some other show would grant media space for Black entertainers, brother Don took matters into his own hands. As a result, scores of Black superstars were born who never would have existed otherwise. That’s what you call making something out of nothing.

Read Dr. Boyce Watkins' entire blog entry at News One.