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.
The Black Community and the Affective Compact
Although most of the episodes of the first season of Soul! are no longer available, an early episode including Novella Nelson, the Last Poets, and Marion Williams illustrates how the show worked to construct an “affective compact” with viewers. The affective compact encompassed the show’s mode of address, its myriad subtle ways of connecting with viewers, and its formal strategies of including the audience within its representations. As a local production of New York public television, Soul! gave voice to progressive critiques subject to censorship on commercial television. Its first season also saw the banding together of the Soul! audience, which successfully rallied for a second season after the Ford Foundation decided to withdraw its grant funding.