Yesterday, on the very first day of Black History month it was disclosed that Don Cornelius, the creator and longtime host of “Soul Train” died from what appeared to be a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He was 75 years old. I remember watching the program a lot when I was younger and Mr. Cornelius seemed to have such a zest for life during the peak days of the program. Today many people are embarking on his accomplishments and innovations. That is the honorable thing to do but today I would like to focus on a different element. I am asking myself, “What would make a man who enjoyed such great success turn to suicide to end his career?” Sometimes a lot of us think that just because someone is famous or rich that they don’t have any struggles. We often admire the position he or she is in because we tend to think about how great it would be for us if we were in their shoes. The truth of the matter is that we really “don’t know.” As rich as the Kennedy clan is, I would not trade places with any of them for love nor money. The catastrophes they had to endure let me know that money is not always the answer to everything. I do believe that most people have at some point in their lives “thought” about the concept of suicide. That is only natural, but to actually take the steps to “attempt” it means that the “joy of life” has been overshadowed by the “pain of life.” I then asked myself, “What would Don Cornelius say to us if he could speak today?” Well, if he committed suicide without leaving behind any note then he would probably have “nothing” to say. Should this make us feel as though he let us down? Does this “taint” his career? Should he still be considered a role model for new Black entrepreneurs? If there is a moral to this story the only thing I can think of is that “The grass is not always greener on the other side.” As long as all of us are human, then we are all subject to “human” traits. A man who was an integral part of Black History felt that the value of his life was no longer up to par with yours or mine, so he took the initiative to “end it.” Hopefully we all can find some sort of “meaning” from what Mr. Cornelius “didn’t” say. Hopefully we can come to the conclusion that while there is still life then there should still be hope, and the true quality of life comes from what we put in it. We may never know the issues of what he was dealing with nor the pain that he was going through, but if we can use his story to upgrade our own “quality” of life then his career can still have a positive impact on us all… Rest in Peace, Don Cornelius, and we only hope that in death your find the serenity and balance that you could not find in the latter days of your life. As for the rest of us, I would like to wish you all “Love, Peace… and Soul.”
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The legendary Jerry Butler and Brett Jolly in concert