It's Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television
Gayle Wald is Professor of English and American Studies at George Washington University. She is the author of Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in U.S. Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture.
Introduction: It’s Been Beautiful
Soul! is an unremembered landmark in the history of American television. It was the only nationally televised program to explore artistic and intellectual expressions of the Black Arts and Black Power movements. Appropriating the variety-show format familiar from late-night TV, it explored diversity and conflict within the black collective, working to facilitate a sense of black community despite difference. Through its producer, Ellis Haizlip, Soul! expressed a belief in the power of black performance to sustain this community in the face of ongoing political, social, and spiritual crisis.