Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021) - full transcript

SUMMER OF SOUL is part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture, and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just 100 miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten--until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, and more.

All right, let me know
when you're rolling.

Give me a second,
I wanna get make up to...


Is that the lowest you can go?

Turn it off.

-Turn it down.

The sync went out a little bit.

All right. All right,
let me try that again.

I hope this will be worth it.

-It's about Harlem.

When'd you get to Harlem?

-Let me do, like, a room tone.

All right.

Yeah, cool.

-Tell 'em the story like we rehearsed.

You guys ready?

-Sound speed?
-Sound speeding.

Camera speed.

Well, first of all, thank you
for doing this interview for us.

We're gonna bring in the monitor
to show you some footage.

So, do you remember
the Harlem Cultural Festival?

That summer of 1969?

There is a lost wallet.

Anne Reynolds. Anne Reynolds.

Your wallet is over here.

Nobody ever heard
of the Harlem Cultural Festival.

Nobody would believe it happened.

The organist is on number 15,
he'll play a little bit for you now.

All I remember is going to
this amazing concert in the park.

You gotta move back, ladies and gentlemen.
You gotta move back.

And there was just a sea of Black people.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you.
Hold it. Hold it.

That is the organ mic, sir.

As soon as you move down, we can start.

Welcome to the Harlem Cultural Festival
here in Mount Morris Park,

in the heart of Harlem.

And now, ladies and gentlemen,
the young brother of soul...

Stevie Wonder!

Hey, y'all, it's raining.

Here we go

Here we go again

We gotta get a groove goin'

Gotta get a groove goin'
Baby, love

All you got to do, baby, yeah

Is do what Stevie tell you to do

Oh, yeah

Everybody, clap your hands

Let me hear
Clap your hands


It's your thing, do what you wanna do

Don't let me tell you good things love do

Just as long, just as long

Just as long as you give it to me

The Harlem Cultural Festival
was a total party atmosphere.

Well, it was in Mount Morris Park,
where the Panthers were the security...

and the kids were sittin' up on the trees.

1969 was a change of era
in the Black community.

The wholesale reevaluation
of our history and our culture.

The styles were changing.

Music was changing.

And revolution was coming together.

We want Black power!

We need it now.

The revolution is not gonna stop.

In 1969.

We want a new life.

A Black consciousness revolution.

It was the right time, the right place.

We were there.

Yeah, yeah, yeah

We wanted freedom now.

What time is it?

We were creating a new world.



We were looking forward to that festival
for some time.

I was 19 in 1969. Going to college.

That's the summer we became free.
Of our parents.

I lived in Harlem.
On Madison and 135th.

That festival was so close to home.
It was only 10 blocks away.

My three best friends and I,
we could actually walk.

We got there early.
Boy, it was hot that day.

And the sun was in my face.
And it was exciting.

We hadn't had anything like that
in Harlem, that I can recall.

Welcome to the heart of Harlem,
Soulsville USA.

This is Tony Lawrence...

and 50,000 beautiful people here
in Mount Morris Park.

And we are asking you to join us
in the Soul Music Festival.

Now from Mississippi, ladies
and gentlemen, The Chambers Brothers.

Hey! Do it to it

Sock it, sock it to me, hey

You like it like that, yeah

That's where it's at, yeah

Do it to it
I'm going uptown to Harlem

To let my hair down in Harlem

If a taxi won't take me
I'll catch a train

I'll go underground
I'll get there just the same

Because I'm goin'

Uptown to Harlem

Gonna let my hair

Down in Harlem

125th Street
Now here I come

Get ready for me 'cause I'm coming for fun

I'm gonna eat me some-a-chicken
some black-eyed peas

Barbequed ribs and some collard greens
I'm gonna party for

Days in Harlem

Leave the downtown

Ways for Harlem

'Cause I'm going uptown to Harlem

Harlem was heaven to us.

It was a place where I was safe, happy,
and made lifelong friends.

I'll go underground
I'll get there just the same

I'm gonna make it to the Cave

Of course, you had those destitute areas
you might consider a ghetto.

Harlem, where
the tight-packed tenements...

spew forth the overcrowded thousands
onto the overheated streets.

But to us Harlemers, Camelot.

It is a creative forest where you
are honed by the hardships of experience.

And many a creative gem comes forth.

Down to Harlem

We loved the culture.

The people, the parties,
the food, the nightclubs.

It was just so rich.

I'll go underground
I'll get there just the same

Harlem was the place to be,
that's where it all happened.

I just graduated from high school.

We wanted to see concerts, dance,
just have fun.

The normal thing
that a high school girl would do.

When I heard about this concert,
it was like, "Okay, let's go."

-We got to, got to, got to
-Down to Harlem

-Yeah, you got to go up to Harlem
-I'm going uptown

I was 19 in 1969.

The festival had the biggest crowds
I can remember seeing at the time.

I was home from college,
it was a hot summer.

I always related summertime
to the potential of violence.

And there was quite a bit of anxiety
that year.


Black America has lost faith
in this country.

Many of us have seen too many
of our leaders jailed and killed.

We have JFK in '63.

A bulletin from CBS News.

President Kennedy is dead.

His assassination was the result
of the climate of hate.

We've got Malcolm in '65.

The assassination of Malcolm X
was an unfortunate tragedy.

'68 in April,
you've got Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King was shot
and was killed tonight.

June '68, you've got Robert Kennedy.

Is there a doctor...

After that, it felt like the system
was letting you down.

President Nixon is now occupying
the White House.

We are not gonna have
a lot of guilt-stricken

white liberals hanging around to turn on.

We're gonna be dealing now
with white America at its worst.

There was protests and a lot of unrest.

Then there was the Vietnam War.

There is a disproportionate representation
of Black men on the frontlines of Vietnam.

We were hearing about these deaths.
So many people our very age.

A family member, a father,
an uncle, a cousin.

There is no need to go to Vietnam...

and shoot somebody who a honky says
is your enemy.

We gonna shoot the cops who are shootin'
our Black brothers...

in the back in this country.

That's where we're goin' to fight.

By '69, the Black community was divided...

between those that were advocating

I'd rather quit talking about revolution
and talk about what is possible.

I was with the non-violent crowd
'cause I was a boy preacher

even though I was 14.

But most of my friends was with those that
were saying self-defense and/or worse.

And if that means tearin' up the community
to gain our freedom, we will.


A day after the death of
Doctor Martin Luther King...

in more than 100 cities,
violence broke out.

Several thousand looters sacked
Harlem streets for nearly seven hours...

the worst outbreak of looting
in that area's history.

I knew New York was trying not to have
a repeat of that in '69.

People were afraid of the anger and rage
boiling over.

It's too late now, we are ready to start,
and we're gonna finish it up.

Yeah, yeah
Come on and get me

Uptown to Harlem

Gonna let my hair down

So, the goal of the festival...

may very well have been
to keep Black folks

from burnin' up the city in '69.


It was a crazy, crazy, crazy period.

We needed something to really reach out
and touch us.

We needed that music.

Brothers and sisters...

now we bring you
the world's greatest blues singer.

Ladies and gentlemen, B.B. King.

Yes, everybody wanna know

Why I sing the blues

I say, everybody wanna know

Why I sing the blues

You know, I've been around a long time

People, I've really paid my dues

I first got the blues
They brought me over on a ship

There was men standing over me
And a lot more with a whip

And everybody wanna know

Everybody wanna know why
I'm singin' the blues

I've been around a long time

People, I've really paid my dues

I've laid in the ghetto flats
Cold and numb

I heard the rats tell the bedbugs
To give the roaches some

Everybody wanna know

Everybody wanna know
Why I'm singin' the blues

Been around a long time

People, I've really paid my dues

Big hand for B.B. King!

If you will, brothers and sisters,
let's give him his due.

The producer and director of the
Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969,

Tony Lawrence.
Tony Lawrence, let's give it to him.

I'll tell you what we're gonna do...

we're gonna get it right
and do a little thing.

I want all of you to do it with me,
all right? Gotta get comfortable here.

All right. Gonna throw this away.

Hey, now, come on.
Take the music down a little bit, baby.

Take it down just a little bit,
'cause I know you feel good.

I was introduced to Tony Lawrence,
when the Parks Department was tasked...

with supporting this guy,
Tony Lawrence's initiative

to hold something called
the Harlem Cultural Festival.

And I was Tony's assistant.

He was an ebullient guy,
he had this phenomenal smile.

I remember Tony being physically
always on the move.

Being very positive,
never getting angry about things,

but never sitting still.

He was a lounge singer,
and he was a promoter.

Can you hear me in the back?
How we doin' over there? All right?

And now, ladies and gentlemen...

Ladies and gentlemen...
Ladies and gentlemen...

From right here in Harlem...

Soul time!

Tony was a hustler in the best sense.

He would make a promise
about delivering something...

and then leverage that...

to be able to get other people
to wanna participate.

It's all premised on half commitments...

that are dependent on another,
and it all...

ultimately, if you're persistent,
you pull it all together.

He knew
how to schmooze with politicians...

and he knew how to talk to
entertainers and musicians.

Tony talked a big game, and he delivered.
The '69 festival was huge.

The challenges of staging
something like that are enormous.

To build a good stage...

to have a decent sound system...

that can cover 30 or 40,000 people
in the park...

you've got six consecutive weekends
of major artists.

But in that era, artists and particularly
artist managers and booking agents...

none of them were the least bit interested
in these kinds of events.

They were risky because they were afraid
they wouldn't get paid...

because who's Tony Lawrence?

I would think the biggest challenge
was convincing them...

that this is A, legit,
B, it's secure, you'll get paid.

Yes, the city is really doing it.
Yes, there'll be security. You'll be safe.

It was our understanding...

that the police was not gonna do security
for the Harlem Cultural Festival.

So, the Black Panthers were there on point
to be doing security.

My job was to make sure
that the backstage was covered.

We had some members
dressed in regular clothing...

and some members in uniform.

Eventually, the police, they were there,
but we wasn't gonna take any chances.

Really, the biggest challenge was just
having enough cash to do it right.

But not only did Tony
get the city behind it...

Maxwell House put up a bunch of money.

The Harlem Cultural Festival...

is being brought to you
by Maxwell Household coffee.

Man found it first
in the humid highlands of Kenya...

and in the misty plateaus of Abyssinia,
a little brown bean.

And at the heart of Instant Maxwell House,
is the little brown bean...

from the rich, moist soil
on the misty slopes of Africa.

General Foods called me up
to do a television special.

We knew we cannot let this enormous array
of talent not be taped.

We must record them.

There was no budget, no money, no lights.

So, the stage had to face west
because I had to use the sun.

This was a high-visibility undertaking...

and would be an embarrassment
if it didn't work.

Yeah, so Tony had to have had somebody
who vouched for him.

At this time, we would like to introduce
a young man...

who is leading one of the greatest fights
in the world for our people.

Ladies and gentlemen,
our blue-eyed soul brother...

the mayor of New York City,
Mayor John V. Lindsay.

Let's hear it!

That somebody was John Lindsay.

John Lindsay was the Republican mayor
in New York...

but a liberal Republican.

Tall, lanky, charismatic.

He was popular among Blacks.

He seemed to not be in any way
uncomfortable around Black people.

Lindsay would go
to the Black community frequently...

and advocate anti-poverty programs.

He made it possible for us 16-year-olds
to get our first jobs.

He just was so chill.

Lindsay was a hellified mayor.

When we had the riots
when they killed King,

he was there in it
right out in the street.

The community of Harlem wants to be safe.

They want to be able to walk tall
down the street.

In '69, Lindsay ran for re-election.

You're a bum, Lindsay!
I'll say it to your face.

He energized the Blacks and
the Puerto Ricans and some of the Jews.

I simply wanted to express my appreciation
to the Harlem community

for this glorious festival.

This great concert could not possibly be
and would not be...

without the inspiration and the support
and the energy of this great community...

of our city of New York.

We're not gonna let him get off.

You know, the mayor was gonna sing...

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
with me...

and he's comin' back next weekend...

and I think him and I are gonna do
Knock On Wood together.

How's that, huh?

All right, we're gonna truly make him
a soul brother, okay?

I was a little kid.

I remember being with my family
walking around the park.

And as far as I could see,
it was just Black people.

This was the first time I'd ever seen
so many of us.

It was incredible.

Families, fathers, mothers,
kids running around.

I was one of those kids.

Beautiful, beautiful women,
beautiful men.

It was like seeing royalty.

Around the park,
people were selling food.

Mom was cookin'.

She had her grill, chicken,
mac 'n' cheese...

maybe some greens, lemonade,
Kool-Aid, sellin' beer...

sellin' headbands,
sweatbands and balloons.

I remember that distinctly.

It smelled like Afro Sheen and chicken.

Growing up in Harlem,
if you went to places like that...

even went to the movies...

Mom fried some chicken, she'd put it
in foil and you took it with you.

We brought everything to the park.

You know, the blankets,
the Vaseline for the knees.

It was the ultimate Black barbecue.

And then you start to hear music...

and someone speaking...

And now, for the first time in Harlem,
Soulsville, USA...

...and you knew it was something bigger.

...ladies and gentlemen,
the 5th Dimension!

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya, baby

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya
Don't cha hear me callin' to ya, baby

-I miss you, baby, and I want you back
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

-I guess I'm crazy
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

-But I want you back
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

I told you, leave me

I remember watching the 5th Dimension.

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

I'm cryin', baby

Their outfits were orange...

but it was an orange, like, you know,
remember the Creamsicles?

-I need ya, baby
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

I'm going mad

I thought they were a little extreme.

-You know I love you
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

-You know I care
-Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

Can't you see I'm lonely

I remember looking at Marilyn McCoo.

Don't cha hear me callin' to ya

She was so beautiful
that I was just, like, transfixed.

I thought she was the most beautiful woman
I'd ever seen in my life.

God, she's my first crush.
I mean, I guess.

We were so excited about performing
in Harlem.

Callin' ya baby

It was the first time.

Come on home

When we first hit...

we came out of the box
right into the pop charts.

We were a group that just came together
as friends from St. Louis, Missouri.

We wanted to sing R and B, pop.

We wanted to have a jazz influence in it.

But everybody thought we were a white act.

Thank you.

Until they saw a picture of the group...

and then they saw these Black folks

in this balloon,
they said, "Wait a minute...

"That's not what we expected," you know...

but yet and still, here we come, you know?

Back then, music was segregated.

Pop groups weren't playing Black music...

and Black groups
weren't playin' pop music.

And so, we were caught in the middle.

When the moon is in the Seventh House

And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets

And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius

Age of Aquarius



Harmony and understanding

Sympathy and trust abounding

No more falsehoods or derisions

Golden living dreams of visions

Mystic crystal revelation

And the mind's true liberation



-When the moon is in the Seventh House
-When the moon

Boy, to hear that song,
it brings back a lot of memories.

When we first heard that song,
in the production of Hair...

we were workin' at the Americana
in New York.

Hair was the biggest thing going.

People were standing around the corners...

they were waitin' in lines,
tryin' to get in...

because it's the first time
they ever seen anybody get naked on stage.

And we'd been tryin' to see that show
for months.

Then one day, I lost my wallet in a cab.

A gentleman gets in behind and
finds my wallet, calls me at the hotel.

I went over to get it,
I offered him some money.

He didn't want no money.

So I said, "Okay, I'll invite you over
to the Americana to see our show."

After the show,
we went backstage and he said...

"Since you were so nice,
I'd like to invite you to see our show."

I said, "What, then?
What show have you got?"

You know, he said
he was one of the producers of Hair.

Can you believe that?

And we got in that day
and we heard Aquarius.

Blew us out of our chairs.

During the intermission,
we got together and said...

"We have to record that song.
It's a hit, it's a hit."

So we called Bones Howe, our producer...

and he said, "I've got an idea.
We'll take Aquarius...

"and we'll put it together
with Let The Sunshine In."


That was the biggest record of 1969.

Let the sunshine

Let the sunshine in

The sunshine in

Let the sunshine

-Let it shine, come on
-Let the sunshine in

The sunshine in

-Sing along
-Let the sunshine

-Let it shine
-Let the sunshine in

-Open up your heart
-The sunshine in

-When you feel like you've been mistreated
-Let the sunshine

Billy laid all those wonderful
gospel licks in his ad libs.

Our producer said,
"Okay, Billy, take it to church."

-And Billy knew exactly what to do...

because Billy sang gospel
in his teen years.

You know, the 5th Dimension,
we travel all over the world...

and our main purpose for travelin'...

is just to bring and spread a little love.

Ain't nothing wrong with that, is there?
Talk to me!

We were constantly being attacked...

because we weren't quote-unquote
"Black enough."

Sometimes we were called
"the Black group with the white sound."

We didn't like that.

We happened to be artists who are Black...

and our voices sound the way they sound.
And how do you color...

That used to be one of our questions.

How do you color a sound?

That was one of the reasons why performing
in Harlem was so important to us...

because we wanted our people to know
what we were about.

And we were hoping
that they would receive us.

Come on and let

Let it shine

Hey! Come on and let

-We were so happy to be there.

I didn't want to leave.
I didn't want to leave her.

Let's just be clear.

After the show, these kids came backstage,
and it was so unexpected.

It was my cousins.

It was Ruth, Sheryl, and Maurice.

And I'm saying to them,
"What are you guys doin' here?"

And they said, "Well, we're singin'
with the Edwin Hawkins Singers."

-Which was on the festival that year.
-That day.

And Edwin Hawkins was hot, you know.

-Oh Happy Day.
-Oh Happy Day. Everybody was singin' that.

Oh happy day

-Oh happy day
-Oh happy day

-When Jesus washed
-When Jesus washed

-When he washed
-When Jesus washed

-When Jesus washed
-When Jesus washed

-He washed all my sins away
-Oh happy day

-Oh that's a happy day
-Oh happy day

He taught me how

He taught me how, yeah

-To watch, fight, and pray
-Oh, oh, yeah

I know, good God, oh, yes

Fight and pray

-Oh happy day, ooh, yeah
-Oh happy day

-Oh happy day
-Oh happy day

-Oh a happy day
-Oh happy day

-Can I get to heaven, my Lord?
-Oh happy day

-I'm gonna spread the news, yeah
-Oh happy day

People tell me that the streets

It's amazing.

-Streets are paved with gold, yeah
-Oh happy day

Looking at all the people on the stage.
My first reaction was, "My God."

They tell me
you got that in heaven, my Lord

Oh happy day

They tell me
you got that in heaven, my Lord

The Edwin Hawkins Singers
were from all over the Bay Area.

San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley area.

Edwin was minister of music
at our church...

the Ephesian Church of God in Christ.

Walter Hawkins is Edwin's baby brother.

Both of those guys, very consecrated
young men. They loved the Lord.

Edwin would put our choir on a fast.
We would fast and pray.

-I'm gonna spread the news, yeah
-Oh happy day

-I'm gonna walk around, my Lord
-Oh happy day

When Oh Happy Day was recorded,
San Francisco DJs heard the song...

and put it on rotation
until it made it number one.

The Ed Hawkins Singers from KDIA...

held on to the number-one spot
for four consecutive weeks.

Ed, what effect has all this sudden fame
and fortune had on the choir and yourself?

It's a lot of excitement going on
and I'm very happy about it.

We started ministering in clubs...

and ministering with secular artists
on stages like Harlem.

-Happy day
-Oh happy day

-When Jesus washed
-When Jesus washed

-I'm so glad that he washed
-When Jesus washed

-I said the Lord washed
-When Jesus washed

He washed all my sins away

But when Oh Happy Day broke,
the church was upset about it.

We were part of the Pentecostal movement.

You didn't drink. You didn't dance.

You didn't go to clubs,
so we were persecuted.

It was very humiliating.

But we felt like the world needed
Oh Happy Day.

With the situation of the world today...

a lot of people don't believe
in God anymore.

They don't go to church.
Especially our youth.

It's really messed up, confused...

they don't know who to turn to,
which way to go...

so they're trying this and that
and they're not finding satisfaction.

And I feel with young people
such as our group...

instead of us trying to take the gospel
to them by preaching to them...

take it to them in song, maybe,
with contemporary sounds...

new beats, new rhythms,
something they can understand...

something they can feel
and express themselves in.

We can show them that God yet lives.

-Please, oh, Lord take me for your city
-Oh happy day

-And then you fill me
-Oh happy day

-Oh, yeah!
-Oh happy day

-Oh, yes it was
-Oh happy day

Welcome to the gospel music day.

Gospel folks from all over the country
are here today...

to spread the spirit.

So, come on in here. Get close to me
so we can feel the spirit.

All right? All right? Okay.

All right, that's enough, that's enough.
All right, that's enough.

Let's calm it down now.
Look, let's take it down a little bit.

Direct from Chicago
to the heart of Harlem...

Papa Staple and the Staple Singers.

Sittin' around on a mourner's bench

I heard an old lady and an amen
Come again to pray

And she began to moan

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Oh, yes, sir

Then I went ahead and asked her
She was Emma Sue

Emma Sue

I've got to move

Oh, get out here

Oh, hear me sing, Lord
No, I can't help myself

-But you, Lord above

-Help me, Lord Jesus

-Give me more faith

-I need your power

Help me to run this race

Help me, Jesus
Help me, Jesus

Help me, Jesus
Help me, Lord

When I looked out into the crowd,
I was overtaken with joy.

Help me, Jesus
Help me, Jesus

I just saw so many Black people,
and they were rejoicing.

They were havin' a good time,
and I started celebratin' with them.

-When Jesus helped me
-Well, well

-When Jesus helped me
-Give us time to get some

-When Jesus helped me
-We forgive all day

-When Jesus helped me

In 1969, we were singin' gospel...

but we would be invited to folk festivals,
jazz festivals, blues...

I told Pops, I said...

"Daddy, why these people invitin' us
to blues festivals...

"but we don't sing no blues?"

He said, "Mavis, listen to our music.

"You will hear every kind of music
in our songs."

Whoa, we are going to Heaven
Just say amen

Just say amen
Just say amen

Just say amen
Let me hear you sing it now

In fact, it was years
before my sisters and I...

knew Pops was playin' the blues
on his guitar...

while we were singin' gospel.

We said,
"Daddy, you're playin' the blues."

He said, "That's the way I learned."

Yeah, don't you need him now?

Pops was born in Mississippi.

He came out of school in the eighth grade,
started working at Dockery's farm.

He didn't know music,
but he taught himself to play guitar.

The first guitar I bought,
I paid five dollars for it.

-Five dollars.
-Five dollars.

-Where did you get the five dollars?
-Picking cotton plants.

Were you?
And how much did you make about a day?

-I made three dollars a week.
-Three dollars a week?

50 cents a day, 14 hours a day.
It wasn't easy. It was tough.

-Over here

-Help you, yeah

-Clap your hands over here

Let me hear you clap your hands

Well, now do you feel all right now?

When we first started singin',
people thought we were old people...

'cause we were singin' these old songs...

that Pops and his family
used to sing in Mississippi.

-Do you feel all right?

Do you feel all right?

There's something very specific about
what happened in Black America...

where I think the only place
we could be fully expressive

was in music, was in these church rituals.

Help me, Lord

Gospel was channeling the emotional core
of Black people...

who were insiders as Christian.

They experienced and redefined it
for themselves...

and that goes all the way back...

to the first moments, probably,
of Black conversion to Christianity.

Come on and throw down
Sing and shout

-Nobody there to put me down

-Look up there in the heat of the day

-Filled up my heart, then began to say

There's this notion of spirit possession
that comes from Africa.

It's a part of seeking
a certain kind of release and catharsis.

This is an eruption of spirit...

to arrive at an inner peace through
being completely expressively open.

Wrapped, tied
Wrapped and tangled

I am wrapped and tangled

Wrapped, tied and tangled
Wrapped, tied and tangled

Wrapped, tied and tangled
Wrapped, tied and tangled

Wrapped, tied and tangled
Wrapped, tied and tangled

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Wrapped, tied and tangled
-Are you wrapped

-Oh, yeah, wrapped over here
-Wrapped, tied and tangled

Gospel was more than religious.

Gospel was the therapy for the stress
and pressure of being Black in America.

We didn't go to a psychiatrist,
we didn't go lay on a couch...

we didn't know anything about therapists,
but we knew Mahalia Jackson.

While I'm singin' I'm holy
Lord, search my heart

While I'm singin' I'm holy
Lord, search my heart

While I'm singin' I'm holy
Lord, search my heart

Gospel's part of our DNA.

It's deep in the recesses
of my consciousness.

My grandfather was a minister.

My father was a chaplain in World War II,
the Korean War.

That religious consciousness
kept him and so many others going.

During the civil rights movement,
the church provided sustenance for us...

helped us march on...

helped generations of people confront
some of the most vicious, violent acts.

They took the great Martin Luther King
from us.

They took the great John Kennedy from us.

They took the great Bobby Kennedy...

but most of all from Harlem
they took Malcolm X from us!

Now listen! Now wait a minute!

God knows a whole lot of generations
of Black folks here.

We're gonna make history right here
with the Black and the white...

and the Spanish and
the Puerto Rican people right here today.

We'd like to introduce
Reverend Jesse Jackson...

and Ben Branch
and Operation Breadbasket band.

Brothers and sisters here in Harlem...

I want us to prepare
to bow our heads in prayer.

It does not really matter
who your God is...

whether you call him Allah...

Zen Buddha, Jehovah, Elohim or Yahweh...

Ben Branch was a saxophone player
from Memphis.

When Reverend Jackson started
the Operation Breadbasket rallies...

Ben put an orchestra together.

I was youth director
of Operation Breadbasket...

and we put pressure on the private sector
to contract Black businesses...

give us shelf space,
put Blacks on corporate boards...

or we would boycott
and we would picket them.

And so today we will throw up around here
justice pickets.

Ben Branch was always revered
by the kids like me...

because Doctor King's
last words was to Ben.

We want sister Mahalia, Mavis Staples...

and all of our groups together
to prepare to do, as our prayer today...

Precious Lord.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

was Doctor King's favorite song...

and sister Mahalia Jackson was my idol.

She was my hero. I loved her so much.

This day, I sit right next to her...

and when came time for her to sing,
she leaned over and told me...

"Baby, Halie don't feel too good today.

"I need you to help me sing this song."

And I said, "Yes, ma'am, I'll help you."

Precious Lord is of course
so meaningful to us...

who was in Memphis on that fateful day.

Memphis, Lorraine Motel. April third,'68.

We stayed in the room all day long...

playing, throwing pillows on the bed,
we were trying to relax.

We went to Mason Temple that night...

it was raining, lightning was flashing.

Doctor King gave the Mountaintop speech.

And he's allowed me to go
up to the mountain.

And I've looked over
and I've seen the promised land.

He saw it!

Next day was April fourth...

we were prepared to perform
for Doctor King that night at the rally.

On that fateful day...

Ben Branch and I were walking together.

As we walked across the courtyard...

Doctor King came to the door
full of glee and joy.

And then he said,
"Jesse, it's time to eat."

He said, "Jesse,
you don't even have a tie for dinner."

And he said to Ben...

"You should play my favorite song,
My Precious Lord."

He raised up and pow!

Doctor King laid there
with his spine severed...

and his face blown off...

but he didn't die crying and die afraid.

He died asking the Lord
to lead his hand...

to help him lead us, all of us.

I just wanted to shout.

And, Lord, standing there
with sister Mahalia Jackson...

I got up and I started that song.

It was just an unreal moment for me.

Precious Lord

Take my hand

Lead me on

Yeah, oh, yeah

Oh yeah, oh, yeah, let me stand

I am tired

Yes, I am

I'm weak

Lord, yeah, Lord, yeah

I am worn, hey, yeah

But through

Through the storm

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Through the night


Lead me on

To the light


Take my hand

Precious Lord

And lead, lead me home

When my way

Groweth drear

Precious Lord


I want you to linger near

Lord, you know, Lord

When my light

Is almost


Oh, Lord

You know, Lord

You know, Lord

And through the storm

Oh, I will stand


-Oh, light my feet
-Light my feet

Whoa, yeah

-Hold me, Lord

-Hold me, Lord

-I want you to hold me

-Take me to you

-Take me to you

-Hold on to me

-Hold on to me

I need ya

Precious Lord


Oh, your child

Lead your child home


Oh, yeah

Man, I'm tellin' you,
that was the time of my life.

When she gave me that microphone back,
I said, "Oh, she likes what I'm doin'."

And I was honored.

I'm tellin' you,
that is still my biggest honor...

to be able to sing on the same microphone
with sister Mahalia Jackson.

She remains the greatest.

And when you talk about music...

this Black festival
is some of every kind...

is some of every style.

Jazz, blues, gospel, all of it is good.

All of it makes you feel good.

Ladies and gentlemen...

that was only the first 15 minutes
of Black history going on here in Harlem.

The festival was such a cross-section of
the music that was happening at the time.

We got a few surprises comin' up here.

People that you didn't even know
thought about what it's all about.

Some people came
because they were truly into the music.

Some came for one act.

And now, ladies and gentlemen...

Motown moves to Soulville
here in Harlem in Mount Morris Park.

My group of friends loved Motown.

One of the greatest song stylists
of our time.

He's a superstar.

He's tall, dark, handsome...

David Ruffin!

I'd like to go back
to the olden days, huh?

To the thing I have for you.
Simply goes like this...

I've got sunshine

On a cloudy day

Whenever it's cold outside

I've got the month of May

Can I get you to sing along
with me one time?

Well, I guess

-I guess you'd say
-I can't hear you.

What can make me feel this way

It's my girl

Talking about my girl, yeah

I've got so much honey

The bees envy me
Yes, darlin'

And I've got a sweeter song

Than any bird in any tree

How you doing, brother?

Well, I guess you would say

What pretty new girl could
Make a man like me feel this way?

It's my girl, whoa, baby

Talkin' about nobody but my girl

David had just left the Temptations.

Hey, hey-hey-hey

The Temptations were my guys.

I wanna hear you sing!

My friends and I,
we were suit-and-tie guys.

We thought we were the backups.

We couldn't sing,
we couldn't do anything...

but we thought we could dance,
we had all the moves down.

I've got all the riches, baby
One sweet man can claim

I love you, too, darling.

At the time, Motown was still one of the
most popular sounds in America.

Berry Gordy and his team
of Black showbiz professionals...

created a whole assembly line
to make 'hood R and B palatable...

to the Wonder Bread
mainstream white America.

To put on wax Black people...

so that we can widen
the distribution of the Black ideas.

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day

Those artists, they were role models...

these were our people...

creating things that made us feel good
about ourselves.

And to see them break through,
we were so proud.

My girl

I love to talk about my girl, yeah

Now, ladies and gentlemen,
we're gonna bring up some folks...

I was nervous.

We were so excited about being there...

we'd join our hands and say prayers
before we went on stage.

Gladys Knight.

Now, when I stepped on stage,
I was totally, totally taken aback

because I didn't expect a crowd like that.

And the Pips!

Oh, I bet you're wonderin' how I knew

Baby, baby, baby
'Bout your plan to make me blue

With some other girl you knew before

Between the two of us girls
Ya know I love you more

It took me by surprise, I must say

When I found out yesterday

Don't ya know that I heard it
Through the grapevine

Whoa, I heard it through the grapevine

-Not much longer would you be mine
-Not much longer would you be mine

Oh, don't ya know that I heard it
Through the grapevine

Whoa, I heard it through the grapevine

And I'm just about, just about,
Just about to lose my mind

Whoa, yes I am

Whoa, yes I am
Whoa, yes I am

Baby what you doin' to me

Oh, take a good look
At these tears in my eyes

Baby, baby, these tears
I can't hold on inside

Losin' you would end my life, you see

Because you mean that much to me

You could've told me yourself

That you were lovin' somebody else

Instead I heard it through the grapevine

Whoa, I heard it through the grapevine

Oh, not much longer would you be mine

Gladys Knight was everything to us.

She was the queen of soul.

She gave it to us good,
and the Pips were workin'.

About to lose my mind
Whoa, yes, I am

Yes, I am
Yes, I am

I know you hear me, boy

At that time, we were up and coming,
believe it or not.

I was very young.

Motown was like our family.

In the beginning,
we all lived in the same neighborhood.

Holland-Dozier lived on the corner,
we lived right here...

Martha and the Vandellas
lived right there...

the Temptations lived right behind us.

We were all together.

Cholly Atkins was our number-one guy.

He was the one
that taught us the routines.

We worked, we worked...

we'd go in his basement at 7:00 a.m.
in the morning.

He kept us there until five or six o'clock
in the evening...

and if you
weren't doing his stuff right...

He was a father to us
as well as a choreographer.

America had started
to listen to this music...

and it took us
to a totally different level...

and from there, we went around the world.

Now bring it on down

Yes, I heard
Oh, yes, I did

Yes, I heard, oh

You know, it's strange

But the same thing happened
to my three guys

-Hey, fellas

Come on and tell 'em
Just how you found out about it

Oh, I heard through the grapevine

Oh, I heard through the grapevine

And I heard, heard, heard, heard, heard it
Through the grapevine

And I heard, heard, heard, heard, heard it
Through the grapevine

Yes, I heard
Oh, yes, I did

Yes, I heard

Motown was very interested
in us keeping our integrity.

Having class, being polite.

Hey, hey, hey
I heard it through the grapevine

But I knew something very, very important
was happening in Harlem that day.

I heard it

It wasn't just about the music.

We wanted progress.

We are Black people,
and we should be proud of this.

And we want our people,
we want our people lifting us up.

Gladys Knight and the Pips.

We believed in what we felt in here.

So, when we went out,
"Let's go! Let's go do it!"

At the Harlem Cultural Festival...

you got a audience that's showing up
who's radicalized.

There's just this embrace of
neo-super Blackness.

That generation had evolved...

and Black music was moving into
this rapidly changing era...

of psychedelicized R and B.

Ladies and gentlemen...

the internationally known...

the dynamic...

Sly and the Family Stone.

When you saw a Black group...

what you expected to see was,
generally speaking, all men,

all dressed in matching suits...

ready even before they hit the stage
to perform.

He introduced Sly...

and the first thing
that happens to the audience...

is the feeling of apprehension...

because just because they introduced Sly
doesn't mean he's there.

It also doesn't mean
he's coming out immediately.

Ladies and gentlemen...

we're gonna have to stop the show
if you keep on pushing.

We're gonna
have to stop the show right here.

So, the group would kind of saunter out.

I remember it being
a beautiful, sunny day.

We hit the stage late...

and I remember,
"Jeez, there's a big crowd here"

and this was Harlem.

The instruments weren't tuned.

You're wondering, "What are they doing
with girls in the group?

"What is white people doing up there?"

We started tuning up, you know, bam!

Hit the snare, kicks, that's good.

Almost like a loose tuning jam.

And a white guy is the drummer?

We couldn't get this thing,
that the white guy is the drummer.

You know, he's not supposed to be able
to do that.

They came to check us out.

You know, "What you got?"

And probably Jerry and I
were the only two white people there.

As soon as everything
was kicking, it was on.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I'm talkin', talkin', talkin', talkin'

Walkin', walkin', walkin', walkin'

I'm livin', livin', livin', livin', hey

Time is passin', I grow older
Things are happenin' fast

All I have to hold on to
Is a simple song at last

Let me hear you say

Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya

Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya

Sing a simple song

Try a little do re mi fa so la ti do

Sly and the Family Stone
was such a game changer on so many levels.

They are kind of our first two-tone
soul group.

They were bringing gender parity
into the presentation.

Everybody sing together

To see a Black woman playin' a trumpet
made me feel great.

Ya, ya, ya, ya
Sing it in the shower, ya

Sly came up in the church,
so he's got all that vernacular.

He used to be a DJ in the middle of the
Haight-Ashbury revolution...

so he's coming from the epicenter
of transformative cool...

transformative hip,
politically savvy America.

He's a conservatory student
and a multi-instrumentalist...

so there's
the proto-Prince factor going on.

Sly wanted to address
everybody and everything.

Music was the common denominator.

And music made you want to challenge

social aspects
that needed to be challenged.

Everybody do their thing,
and that's what we did.

You're in trouble when you find
It's hard for you to smile

A simple song might make it better
For a little while, hey

This is clearly a band...

with an evangelical sense of their church
of psychedelic soul.

It's the ministry of fun.

My friend Ethel Beatty,
we loved Sly and the Family Stone.

We loved them.

We said, "Listen,
we can't let this pass up."

But I could not say that we were going
to see a concert to my mother.

We had to connive.

Maybe I told a fib.

I said I was going to visit my aunt.

We said we were going shopping.

I am everyday people

We walked to the park.

I am everyday people

And we ended up on the front row.

The energy was indescribable.
More than excitement.

Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong

My own beliefs are in my song

The butcher, the banker
the drummer and then

Makes no difference what group I'm in

I am everyday people
Yeah, yeah

There is a blue one who can't accept
The green one for living with

A fat one tryin' to be a skinny one

Different strokes for different folks

And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby

We got to live together

I am no better and neither are you

We all the same, whatever we do

You love me, you hate me
You know me and then

You can't figure out the bag I'm in

I am everyday people

Yeah, yeah, yeah

There is a longhair
That doesn't like the shorthair

For being such a rich one
That will not help the poor one

Different strokes for different folks

And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby

We got to live together

There is a yellow one that can't
Accept the black one

That won't accept the red one
That won't accept the white one

Different strokes for different folks

And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

I am everyday people

As I said, my group of four guys,
we were suit-and-tie guys.

Then we saw Sly,
and we were no longer suit-and-tie guys.

I am everyday people

The change was in effect.

Watermelon man

Watermelon man

When you looked at the audience...

you could see the change in the scene
as it was happening.

There would still be people
in silk and wool and sharkskin...

but you would see the bell-bottoms,
the cut-off shirts.

You saw platform shoes, hip-huggers,
men wearing no shirt and leather vests.

It was hip, you know. It was real hip.

At that time,
Harlem was a melting pot of Black style.

When we got into the late '60s,
there was a new movement.


It's a revolution, style revolution,
cultural revolution.

We found that the African styles
just suit us better.

I could remember dashikis.

Everybody had a dashiki.
I think I had a dashiki.

Now, the dashiki is an adaptation
of an African piece.

What we mean when we say dashiki,
is freedom.

So it's a freedom suit.
I can move in any direction.

I never am attacked.

The hair was the biggest change.


My generation say it looks nice.

The older generation
thinks it's ridiculous.

The three of us, me, Yvonne and Cleety,

we all had our natural 'dos,
we couldn't wait to get our hair nappy.

Black people who, unfortunately,
was born in this country...

are trying to establish our identity.

This is just about all we have left
to identify ourselves as.

That festival brought in
the different cultures.

Caribbean, Afrocentric,
all the Latin and Cuban.

Mongo Santamaria at this festival,
at this time in Harlem in the '60s

is the nexus of the Black and brown
communities that make up Uptown New York.

Watermelon man

His first hit, Herbie Hancock's
Watermelon Man...

is where Cuban music meets jazz.

The festival, it's a political statement
of Black and brown communities.

Ladies and gentlemen,
we bring you Harlem's very own...

the young man who put the soul
into the Latin music, Ray Barretto.

A New Yorican,
it's a New Yorker with Puerto Rican roots.

Ray Barretto, in particular,
was a New Yorican.

He's a Puerto Rican New Yorker,
born here, raised here in Harlem.

He's the original New Yorican.

But has an unbelievable impact
on Puerto Rican music.

East Harlem, or Spanish Harlem,
was not just Puerto Ricans.

You had Jamaicans,
you had African-American...

Cuban, Black Panamanian...

and they brought with them
Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican music.

In '69, I lived in
El Barrio, East Harlem.

There was music coming off of every
fire escape, out of every social club.

You hear the sound of drumming.

They have roosters crowing...

guys that would sit out playing dominoes.

We all hung out together,
we danced together, we partied together.

We were speaking a universal language,
the drum.

It goes back
to making the drum speak to people.

The different rhythms
that each person has in the band,

some of it's up, some of it's down,
but it goes like this.

It comes together and it forms a bond
and a conversation.

And that conversation reads out
to the audience...

and now they're listening
'cause they understand what you're saying.

I got to perform with Ray
early on in my teens...

and I learned a lot by watching him.

Ray's playing, it's all in the wrist,
and that's what I learned.

That's how I play. More with the wrist.

Mongo's different from Ray Barretto.

He's not just using the tips.

He's using his entire hand to play
and all of his arm.

And the power.

If you ever shook his hand...

all of his fingers would almost be
the same size.

They were swollen
like a club from playing.

Those artists crossed genres. They're
trying to reunite people with music.

Bringing people together,
that's what it's about.

Now, I know a beautiful truth.

I know that in my blood...

I got Black and white...

red, Puerto Rican, Indian.

I'm all messed up,
but I got soul, I know it.

And so, in every face,
in every face I see...

I see a part of you and you
and you and me...


The power of music
is to tell our own stories.

We hold a mirror to ourselves.

We write the music
that comes from inside us.

And other people say, "That's me, too."

I said, everybody get together

Got to do it all if we gonna live...

not on the moon,
right here on Earth, baby.

We got to do it all together
before it's too goddamn late.

Go for landing.

We're a go. Same type. We're a go.

Come on now, let's go to sing out.

Okay, 75 feet.


There's looking good.

-60 seconds.
-Lights on.

Some are pushin' hard

Drifting to the right a little.

Some are holdin' back

Kickin' up some dust.

You know it's a shame

30 seconds.

The way some people act

Three feet and two and a half down.

The president said

Okay, engine stop.

That we would overcome

Tranquility Base here.

We gotta keep pushin' a whole lot

The Eagle has landed.

Till the work is done

Man on the moon. Oh, boy, boy.

It's been a change
It's been a change

-This whole world has been a change

Sunday, July 20th, 1969...

during the Harlem Cultural Festival...

man landed on the moon.


Things have been

It's a great thing for this country.

Won't be no more

I can't believe that that just happened.

It may be late

It was terrific.

Or it may be soon

It's a great technological achievement.

One of these days

It's really unbelievable.

There'll be a man on the moon

I'm very emotional.

I just hope they make it back.

I felt the world got closer today.

I felt we all got to know each other
that much more.

This whole world has made a change

Well, there was a large crowd
gathered in Harlem this afternoon.

For some of the reaction there,
correspondent Bill Plante.

There are 40,000, perhaps 50,000 people
at Mount Morris Park in Harlem...

but they are not here
watching the moon landing.

They are here at the soul festival...

part of the third annual
Harlem Cultural Festival.

And for many of them...

this is far more relevant
than the mission of Apollo 11.

What's your feeling
now that the astronauts

have landed safely on the moon?

I think it's very important...

but I don't think it's any more relevant
than, you know...

the Harlem Cultural Festival here.

I think it's equal.

What are your thoughts?

As far as science goes...

and everybody that's involved
with the moon landing and astronauts...

it's beautiful, you know.
Like me, I couldn't care less.

This means more to you than that.

Yeah, much more.

The cash they wasted,
as far as I'm concerned...

in getting to the moon
could have been used

to feed poor Black people in Harlem...

and all over the place.
All over this country.

So, like, you know, like,
never mind the moon...

let's get some of that cash in Harlem.

There's been a change and you might be

the president
of the United States one day.

Listen, all of you young people,
this is your verse.

You young people

I think it's a waste of money.

Stay in school

People are going hungry
all over the United States.

Study hard

Let's do something about poverty now.

And obey the rules

Straightening out our problems.

You may be young

There's so many people who need help.

And you may be able

Haven't got an education

What's up there on the moon? Nothing.

Can't get common labor

It's groovy for certain people
but not for the Black man in America.

It's been a change

Well, here's the way
I look at it. Like that.

Black man wants to go to Africa,
white man's going to the moon.

I'm gonna stay in Harlem
with the Puerto Ricans...

and have me some fun.

I had a dream last night,
and in it, I went to the moon.

-You went to the moon?

Did you go up in the Apollo?

No, I went up in an Edsel.

Well, look, tell me more about that.

-What happened? Did you plant the flag?

-You didn't plant a flag?
-No, man.

-What did you do?
-Planted a sign.

-What did the sign say?
-"For sale. Cheap."

A man done gone to the moon.

I went as far as Baltimore with them,
then I got off.

In Harlem, people,
they're not focusing on the moon...

they're dealing
with the everyday realities.

'69 was a tough time for Harlem
because of the heroin epidemic.

What do you think is the most
pressing issue for Black folk?

The number-one thing
is the narcotics addiction in this area.

I would say the drugs, at this point.

What do you think is the cause
for this influx of drug use...

in the Black communities?

One of the reasons is
because of the great oppression...

which white racists, you know,
places on the Black community.

And this is one way
of alleviating the pain.

I was addicted for 16 years.

I lost my job, I lost my family,
my wife kicked me out.

Bad things were happening to Harlem.

Businesses were closin',
lot of people leavin'...

the buildings became abandoned.

We are living in economic colonialism
based on money...

where the greedy are exploiting the needy.

Where we are more concerned
about the moon than men.

Somebody better wake up.

This is a country with a gross national
product of nearly a trillion dollars.

The money is here.

Any country that can fight
an unpopular war...

spend more money on weapons
than any other single item...

and send men to the moon, baby,
that country has really got the bread.

But what the moon shot proves again
is that what America hasn't got is soul.

Funky, funky, funky, funky
Let's get funky

Your precious sweetheart

She's so faithful

She's so true, whoa, yeah

Her dreams are tumblin'
Her world is crumblin'

Because of you

One day you'll hurt her
Just once too much

And when you finally
lose your tender touch

Oh, oh

Her feet may wander
Her heart may stray

Oh, yeah


You're gonna send your baby straight to me

I'm gonna give her all the lovin'

Within my heart, oh, yeah

I'm gonna patch up every single
Little dream you tore apart

I felt very honored to be there.

I could feel the energy of so many people.

I was 19. I was at a crossroad.

Obviously, I had some success.

We had done For Once in My Life,
I Was Made to Love Her, and Up-Tight...

and many songs.

But I had the feeling
the world was wanting a change.

We were moving into a whole 'nother
time and space with music and with sound.


You better listen to me, yeah, yeah

Heartaches are callin'
Tears are fallin' over you

And when you're gone
I'm the one to go to her rescue

Understand me

You're gonna leave her
One too many times

And when you come back
She's gonna be mine, all mine

In '69, Stevie's bordering on,
is he gonna be like the Temptations...

singing his '60s hits
for the rest of his life,

or is he gonna have this breakthrough?

It would have been very easy
to sit where he was.

To be that famous and not lazy,
is amazing.

I enjoyed doing those songs...

but there was this thing
in my heart that said...

"Okay, there is so much more
that you're writing."

Where was this going to lead me,
what was my motivation?

People would say to me...

"Hey, you shouldn't say this,
you shouldn't talk about that...

"you're gonna mess your career up,
you're gonna mess your records up."

In my mind, I said,
"I don't give a four-letter word."

I never wanted to let fear
put my dreams to sleep.

Stevie is getting
into political involvement.

I'm definitely for it.
I'm for people registering and voting.

I want people to start doing things.
Action is important, gaining power.

We know we've got the soul power.

I would like to raise money.

We've got forty million starving people.

We are dealing with joblessness.

Racism is in this country.

We're dealing with homelessness.

Stevie was performing
for over 10,000 people.

To demand Doctor Martin Luther King's
birthday become a national holiday.

If something new doesn't happen now...

We are not African, we are not European...

we are a new people.
We are a beautiful people.

I had pride in the fact
that I was a Black man.

-I am Black.
-I am Black.

-I am beautiful.
-I am beautiful.

I am proud.

'69 was the pivotal year...

where the Negro died
and Black was born.

It was a significant change
calling yourself Black.

In the early '60s,
if you called someone Black...

it meant you wanted to fight them.
'Cause no one wanted to hear that mess.

Why do we think of Black as bad
and white as good?

White symbolizes purity,
honesty, innocence.

Black represents evil,
wickedness, and gloom.

Whites gave "Black" its negative meaning.

In 1969, I was working
at The New York Times...

and I spent a lot of time in Harlem.

And for the first time, I wrote "Black"
instead of "Negro" in a story...

because I listened to the community.

I listened to the people
who were calling for the change.

But some white editor...

changed my wording
from "Black" back to "Negro."

I was so upset.

I dictated an 11-page memo
calling for the change.

And the editor, Abe Rosenthal, said...

"Fine, that's what we're gonna do."

From that point on,
at The New York Times...

people of color, this color,
were referred to as Black.

We were Black and we were proud.

When we started singin' freedom songs,
message songs,

the Black Panthers, Fred Hampton...

Stokely and his boys
would come hear us sing.

And they would let
my sister Yvonne and I know...

"We're watching y'all,
ain't nobody gonna mess with y'all."

Black militancy
and its accent on Black pride...

is having a growing effect
across the country.

1969, I was droppin' out of college
to make a revolution.

The people have the power to force some
kind of justice being done in society...

because only when the power is in
the hands of the people...

is anything gonna get done.

When we kicked off the Young Lords Party
in New York.

Tactics have included a garbage blockade,
the occupation of a neighborhood church.

They also occupied, for a time,
part of a hospital.

We're fighting for our own people,
Puerto Ricans...

but it's a fight that's in the interest
of Black people...

of poor white people in this country,
the Asian-Americans.

We were in complete harmony
with the Black Panthers.

We were tired of what was happenin'.

The police runnin' amok,
beatin' up on all kinds of people.

Young men is killed by the police.

-Who is this?
-Huey P. Newton.

And where is Huey?

In jail.

Who put him there?

The pigs.

At the same time as the festival, the
Panther 21 trial was happening downtown.

I want everybody in Harlem
to get this record down.

We got some brothers
that are political prisoners.

21 Panthers locked up here in New York.

As activists, we were making a complete
and total commitment.

It was like going to war...

and we were propelled on a wave of music.

With Black musical expression...

there's a certain kind
of release and catharsis.

There's also rage, there's also trauma.

This notion of spirit possession
from Africa...

gets translated
into this horrific American experience.

The artists connect with the pain.

It's like, yeah, I want you to feel.

I want you to feel who Sonny Sharrock
really is right now.

There is a primal,
therapeutic aspect to it.

They call it "freedom music"
because it's what freedom feels like.

These musicians were expressing musically.

what we were thinking and feeling
politically and culturally.

When my dad put out a song
called It's Time...

he was not trying to be slick
and have a message.

No, that is the message.

It's our time, it's time, do it now.

We want liberation.

He wanted to make change.

An important step
for the Black artist to take...

is to engage ourselves in ownership...

of not only artistic properties,
but physical properties.

The theaters, the clubs,
the record companies.

But his record company
was not interested in politics.

It's like what they say
to the basketball players today...

"Just play basketball."
Well, they were saying, "Just play drums."

I was coming to hear Max and Abbey.

They were like our power couple,
but Black power.

I traveled here and yonder

I never found a home

I guess it must be written
All my life to roam

They were so beautiful,
and young and dynamic.

There's a land of milk and honey

On the river they call the Nile

You know this phrase
"unapologetically Black"?

They lived that phrase every day.

The African woman always worked
to bring home the bread.

You do whatever is necessary.

Oh, beautiful, wonderful Africa

Someday I'm coming

I'm coming for to see the promised land

I'll stop in

My dad and Abbey just didn't see
the civil rights struggle...

as an American thing.

They saw the struggles in the Caribbean...

and South America and in Africa...

all as part of a common struggle.

South Africa. The problems that face
Black people everywhere...

are essentially the same, oppressed
by racist institutions created by whites.

You guys can use certain kinds of support.

We do have to launch an armed struggle.

From the African continent
to the heart of Harlem...

Hugh Masekela, doing his thing.

In Harlem,
we were being exposed to linkages...

between Latinos, Blackness, Africa.

And Hugh Masekela brings that together.

When my dad left South Africa,
it was during the height of apartheid,

and he's literally escaping apartheid.

He comes to America and lands straight
into the hotbed of civil rights.

At the time, Grazing in the Grass was
one of the biggest songs on the planet.

My father realized
there was this real hunger...

for Black Americans
to feel and see and taste

what it would be like to be African.

My father loved Harlem.
He always wanted to be within the people.

If it was poppin' off somewhere
where people were...

disenfranchised, disempowered,
or needed support...

it was like a tractor beam for him.

Like, he had to go and be part of it.

In general...

you'll find that musicians come from
the activist part of their populations...

and they come
usually from the poor side of town...

or represent the opinions of the people
who are exploited.

An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned,
is to reflect the times.

And at this crucial time in our lives,
when everything is so desperate...

when every day is a matter of survival,
I don't think you have a choice.

How can you be an artist
and not reflect the times?

Ladies and gentlemen...

we would like to introduce a young lady...

who tells the story about the troubles
and tribulations of the ghetto.

The new Black struggle,
the first lady of soul...

Nina Simone.

We walked on water to see Nina Simone.

She looked like a African princess.

She would bang those piano keys.

Her fearlessness,
and her control as a woman...

as a Black woman, was just awesome.

She was sending a message.

Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash

Who do you think I am?

You raise my taxes and freeze my wages

Send my only son to Vietnam

You give me second-class houses
Second-class schools

I know you think that all colored people
Are just second-class fools

Mr. Backlash

I'm gonna leave you with the blues
Yes, I am

Yes, I am
Yes, I am

When I try to find a job

To earn a little cash

All you got to offer
Is your mean, old white backlash

But the world is big

Big and bright and round

It's full of other folks like me
Who are Black, yellow, beige and brown

Mr. Backlash

I'm gonna leave you with the blues
Yes, I am

Yes, I am

Hey, now


Nina Simone was filtering
what was going on in this country...

through her experience as a Black woman.

She knew what barriers she was breaking...

and threw them back in people's faces.

When Langston Hughes died

He told me many years before

He said
"Nina, keep on workin'

"Till they open up the door

"One of these days when they open the door

"And it's, you know it's open wide

"Make sure you sock it to 'em
where they live

"So they'll have no place to hide"

So I'm tellin' you

Yeah, I got to do it in the hot sun

But, if necessary, got to do it


Oh, God

I'm gonna leave you with the blues

Yes, I am

Hello, hello, hello.

Remember Lorraine Hansberry
who wrote Raisin in the Sun?


Okay, there is an off-Broadway show...

going on downtown right now
called To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

Some of you have seen it.

It is not a musical, as you know,
but we have taken...

Weldon Irvine,
who is my musical director...

and I have taken the title
and come up with a song...

To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

To be young, gifted and Black

Oh, what a lovely, precious dream

To be young, gifted and Black

Open your heart to what I mean

In the whole world you know

There's a million boys and girls

Who are young, gifted and Black

And that's a fact

Nina Simone gave us hope.

You are young, gifted and Black

We must begin to tell our young

"There's a world waiting for you.

"The quest has just begun."

There's a world waiting for you

Yours is the quest that's just begun

In 1961...

my high school classmate
Hamilton Holmes and I...

became the first two Black students
to desegregate the University of Georgia.

I wanted to be a journalist
and it had a school of journalism.

What are your plans now
as far as this quarter is concerned?

I'll have to think it over.

Many white students didn't want us there.

Do you think there'd be any trouble
if a Negro entered the university?

Well, I do if they were gonna put her
in the dormitories.

How do you yourself feel?

Well, I wouldn't myself like it.

The second or third night I was on campus,
there was a riot.

Oh, how I long to know the truth

They put me in a dormitory
on the first floor.

All of the girls in my dorm were housed
on the second floor...

and they used to take turns
beating on the floor...

'cause they knew exactly
where my room was.

But I had Nina Simone's albums.

So, while the girls were upstairs
beating on the floor...

trying to make me uncomfortable...

I was listening to Nina Simone...

and just being very at peace.

To be young, gifted and Black

Is where it's at

Is where it's at

Is where it's at

Nina Simone sung that in her tone...

that is somewhere
between hope and mourning.

I mean, nobody could capture both spirits
like Nina.

It defined a whole generation...

because you could hear in her voice...

our pain, but our defiance.


Okay. Hold it. Hold it.
This is for you.

It is written by David Nelson.
He's not here today.

There are three Black poets, or six,
or maybe a hundred in this town.

But he's not here and I didn't
memorize it enough so I have to read it.

It's for you.

Are you ready, Black people?


Are you ready?

-Are you really ready?

Are you ready?

Ready to do what is necessary?

Are you ready?

Are you ready, Black man?

-Are you ready?
-Black woman, are you ready?

-Are you ready, ready, ready?

Are you ready?

Hear me good now, hear me good now

-Hear me good now
-Are you ready?

-Are you ready to kill if necessary?

Are you ready?

-Is your mind ready?

Is your body ready?


Are you ready?

Are you ready to smash white things?

-Are you ready?

-To burn buildings, are you ready?

On one side of 125th Street,
an angry crowd of young people.

Across the street,
plans for a state office building.

This whole section of town here
will be destroyed...

if a school don't go out there.

They got plenty land downtown
to build a state building.

Why they come up here and pick Harlem...

where all the colored people
and the Puerto Ricans are?

Black everybody

Are you really, really, really ready?

Are you ready to listen
to all the beautiful Black voices?

The beautiful Black feeling?

The beautiful Black waves
moving in beautiful air?

Are you ready to love Black?

Always loving Black?

Are you ready, Black people?
Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Are you ready to change?

Into a groovy, groovy Black person?

Are you really ready to change yourself?

Turn yourself inside out
Through and through

And make yourself a through and through
and through and through

And through and through and through

Real Black person?

I say, are you ready?

Ladies and gentlemen...

brothers and sisters...

Nina Simone.

Are you ready?

That concert...

was like a rose comin' through cement.

It was a good thing for Harlem...

because as much as Harlem
has been maligned over the years...

for the crime and the drugs...

there was a bunch of folk...

law-abiding, productive citizens, never
used drugs, went to work every day...

took care of business,
very community-oriented and loved Harlem.

Loved where they lived,
loved their community.

It was like nothing I'd ever felt before
in my life.

Before that,
the world was like black and white.

The concert took my life into color.

But then, the festival was forgotten.

It did not register to me
until we were leaving...

when we realized the magnitude of it.

But I never turned around and looked.

Even though the shows were recorded
all summer...

it feels like it happened
and then they threw it away.

I shot the festival, tried to sell it.

Woodstock was the same year...

and Woodstock got all of the publicity.

So, in selling it,
I started to call it the Black Woodstock.

It didn't help.

Nobody was interested in a Black show.


Nobody cared about Harlem.

As we all know,
this has happened to Black people.

A lot of our history is forgotten.

I mean, it's not like that festival
is an anomaly.

We hold these truths to be self-evident
that Black history is gonna be erased.

The so-called powers that are or were...

didn't find it significant enough
to keep it as a part of history.

Because it is a part of history.

We were comin' together
to say this was our world.

The Black world.

This is ours.

We, as a people...

especially today...

need to feel like family.

Holdin' up for each other...

fighting for each other...

liftin' each other up.

We're gonna try to sing a song together
if we can.

Now, the song is called Higher.

We'd like to ask everybody to join in.

Don't wait for approval
from your neighbor...

'cause your neighbor
might be waiting for you.

Now, it goes like this.

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher



Higher, yeah, yeah

Hey, now

Take you higher

Hey, hey

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher





Feel it take over

Feel it take over

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher

-Wanna take you higher




Ladies and gentlemen,
Sly and the Family Stone.


I'm sorry.

It's like...

You know, it's funny.

You put memories away...

and you don't realize...

Sometimes you don't even know
if they're real.

So, it's almost confirmation
that what I knew is real.

Yeah, so,
you know you're not crazy, like...

I'm not crazy!

Thank you!

So, watching you watch this...

is making me overwhelmed now.

I thought I was the only person that...

I knew I wasn't crazy, brother,
I knew I was not crazy.

But now I know I'm not.

And this is just confirmation.

And not only that...

how beautiful it was.

Have a little faith

In the one you love, yeah

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Nights are cold

And the days are so long, yeah


And though I thought I had a little woman

That I could call my very own, yeah

But some of her friends

Told her bad things about me, yeah

And I tried to tell that little woman

To believe in me

I told her, have a little faith

In the one you love

Keep the faith, baby

Have a little faith

In the one you love

You know, I went to her house

On a Sunday afternoon, yeah

I took one look in that woman's face

And don't you know, everything was gloom


She said she had a call

From someone she knew, hey

They told her bad things about me

Things I knew just couldn't be true

I told her to have a little faith
Oh, Lord

In the one you love

Keep the faith, keep the faith

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Oh, Lord

I don't ever wanna see
A tear fallin' from your eyes

Honey, I love ya and you know I need ya

I want you always here by my side
Oh, Lord

Say it again
Oh, Lord

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Say it again

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Say it again

Have a little faith

In the one you love

Y'all be cool for a minute.


What are you doing?

Fellas, silence.

You done?

Hey, dig.

Stevie, I mean, the rain on my clothes
is bad enough...

but you got your hands on my clothes,
you dig it?

Why you gotta cross me
in front of these people?

Hey, man,
take your hands off my clothes.

Man, take your hands off 'em.

What you mean, your clothes? I bought 'em.

You ain't bought 'em.

I'm goin' now.