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 Racial State and the “Disappearance” of Soul!
The early 1970s saw efforts on the part of the Nixon administration to curtail the expression of political dissent on television, especially in news and public affairs broadcasts. Within this climate of increasing surveillance of TV news content, black political and cultural expression was also scrutinized. When the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) withdrew funds for Soul! in 1973, it cited a desire to lend support to “integrated” racial representations. Soul! and its audience fought back, as they had in 1969, but the program ended in March 1973. The final Soul! episodes celebrate and document its accomplishments, proposing that the show’s “vibrations” will persist despite its cancellation.