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Buying Power report: Blacks spend as economy grows
New 16th edition shows $507 bil in spending

The finding comes from the 16th annual edition of "The Buying Power of Black America" report. In 2009, black households spent an estimated $507 billion in 27 product and services categories. ...

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"Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius found dead at his Sherman Oaks, Calif. home

(February 1, 2012) Don Cornelius, creator of the long-running TV dance show "Soul Train," shot himself to death Wednesday morning at his Los Angeles home, police said. He was 75.

Officers responding to a report of a shooting found Cornelius at his Mulholland Drive home at around 4 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 4:56 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter.

"Soul Train" began in 1970 in Chicago on WCIU-TV as a local program and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006.
It introduced television audiences to such legendary artists as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White and brought the best R&B, soul and later hip-hop acts to TV and had teenagers dance to them. It was one of the first shows to showcase African-Americans prominently, although the dance group was racially mixed. Cornelius was the first host and executive producer.

"There was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity," he said in 2006, then added: "I'm trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them."

Cornelius, who was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said in 2006 he remained grateful to the musicians who made "Soul Train" the destination for the best and latest in black music.

"We have lost a pioneer in the field of television and music, who opened doors for African Americans in the television Industry, with the longest running weekly series in television," said Don Jackson, president of Chicago-based Central City Productions "Don and I both got our start in the entertainment and broadcast industry at WVON radio in Chicago. The most intriguing memory I have of Don was his tremendous drive to launch the Soul Train Music Awards against the opposition he received from the major television music award shows, which, at the time, objected to Donís idea of a Soul Music Awards show as unnecessary."

"Don Cornelius introduced America to Black Culture by providing a platform to showcase our talent, our trends and our beauty," said Melody Spann Cooper, president of WVON where Cornelius got his start in broadcasting. "He was the original social network, for generations of young Black Americans."

In a statement the Rev. Jesse Jackson recalled Corneilus as an activist and friend. "I first met Don in 1964 when he was a reporter with the iconic WVON radio station. Then, and throughout the course of his lifetime, Don was driven by a singular determination to tell the story of the African American experience. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement, Don Cornelius transitioned from journalism and ventured into the realm of music and entertainment.

With his own $400, Don rented out the WCIU/Channel 26 studios and started Soul Train, a dance review featuring young high schoolers and some of the highest profile, yet under-recognized Black talent in the world of entertainment. It exploded in popularity, and after a year, with the sponsorship of Johnson's Products Co., Soul Train went national--and the rest is, quite literally, history.

Don was a personal friend. He shared many wonderful times in my home with my wife and children. And in times of triumph and challenge, he was always there. A part of my soul has traveled with him today. My love, thoughts and prayers are with his family. We are beneficiaries of his special kind of genius.

"Don Cornelius was a pioneer in the television and music industries," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman & CEO of BET Networks. "He made Soul Train a destination for lovers of Black culture and music and connected the world to our culture. We owe so much of our success to him, he built the space for the creation of a BET, built a platform for the music that our audience loves and gave a voice to countless artists that shaped Black culture and beyond."

Plans for a memorial service in Chicago at the Museum of Broadcast Communications are underway and will be announced shortly.

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