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.
Freaks Like Us: Black Misfit Performance on Soul!
Soul! was a cultural expression of Black Arts and Black Power that also dared to explore the tensions within nationalist political and cultural formations. Produced and hosted by Ellis Haizlip, a gay man, the show made a point of making visible black identities ordinarily marginalized within nationalist discourse, including those of homosexuals and feminists. At the same time, Soul! rendered a vision of Black Arts and Black Power that was more inclusive of difference than has usually been recognized. In the social world Soul! represented, especially in episodes featuring Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin, Louis Farrakhan and Amiri Baraka, tolerance for difference and dissent coexisted with radical imaginings of a “black” world.