By Vernon Nickerson
Where were you in summer 1969? Can’t remember? Not born yet? That’s okay. I have the perfect film for where you needed to be in 1969 on the day man walked on the moon. GO SEE SUMMER SOUL AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!
A Questlove Jam: “Summer of Soul”, Or, when the Revolution Could Not Be Televised, is more than a documentary. Directed by Questlove and drawn from footage originally produced for television as a “Special Presentation,” Summer of Soul is a concert that took place for an entire series of six consecutive summer weekends in the city of New York. The total attendance figure for the series is 300,000, predominately Black and Brown people. Every individual or group of headline performers were at some stage of their legendary careers in the fine and performing arts before this series of concerts masterfully edited with 21st Century narratives from some of the actual performing artists.
Because the gathering was non-violent, “Summer of Soul ” documents the first major peaceful gathering of Black folks over 6 consecutive summertime weekends at Mount Morris Park in New York, New York. This epic concert event happened in a United States of America that had survived paroxysms of political assassinations and rioting. In April of 1968, Harlem had erupted in riots. Black Americans in particular and the World, in general were still recovering from the assassinations of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in Memphis, Tennessee, and Malcolm X in the heart of Harlem. Consequently, “Summer of Soul” is also a historical artifact with all of its featured narrative in the first person, live and “in living color.” Such was the language of television in the sixties, a time when color television was still considered a luxury item in many homes.
Run, do not walk to HULU (or your local cinema if possible) and watch this movie! You will need multiple viewings because so much awesome and iconic talent is packed into the approximately 2-hour film. I would also like to encourage all of America’s major museums, including and especially the National Museum ACOF African American History at the Smithsonian and the Museum of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to purchase the film for their archives as soon as possible.
Here is a shortlist of the once-in-a-lifetime event of iconic legends sharing the same stage in the film and its message that can do the most good for an entire planet of Pandemic survivors:
The Fifth Dimension
The Edwin Hawkins Singers
“Pop” Staples and the Staples Singers
Gladys Knight and The Pips
Sly and the Family Stone
Mongo Santamaria and His Band
I doubt any of us who love and support independent film in the USA could ever have anticipated that recorded and documented US History would be so important. Have a SUMMER Of SOUL watch party! Have watch parties every day between now and the end of summer! GO SEE SUMMER Of SOUL AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE! You will love it.