The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival didn’t “happen in a vacuum.”
In an archival clip from this month’s documentary, “Summer of Soul,” a CBS reporter asks an attendee of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival for his thoughts on the moon landing. The concert-goer says he “couldn’t care less,” adding that the money spent on the space mission “could’ve been used to feed poor Black people in Harlem.”
That news clip never aired on national news, according to the documentary’s team of producers, who spoke with David Brancaccio this week. And the many hours of video footage taken at the event — from which “Summer of Soul” was developed — only surfaced within the past few years. Perhaps studios and networks at the time, working off assumptions they made about their audience’s preferences, thought they couldn’t sell a show centered on Black artists. But over the years that oversight becomes an “erasure,” siphoning off an important segment of the cultural conversation. The moon landing interview highlights just one such important — but largely erased — point of view.
You can hear David’s full interview with the producers of “Summer of Soul” here. If you’ve seen the film, we’d love to hear from you. Email us your thoughts and reactions at email@example.com. We’ll feature some of your responses in next week’s newsletter.
“Summer of Soul” is showing in select theaters(!) and available to stream on Hulu.
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