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Your responses to “Summer of Soul”

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It seems this month’s documentary selection, “Summer of Soul,” was — in short — a hit. Many of you wrote in to share your delight in the music and the message.

“What a gem! I was an 18-year-old college freshman at the time and I can remember the afros, dashikis, bell bottoms and mini skirts, and the feeling of ‘Black is beautiful’ everywhere. Hope was alive. Questlove has put together footage that transports me back to a happier and yet challenging time. I plan to share it with my adult children and grandkids.”  — Annice R.

“To me, ‘Summer of Soul’ is even more of a treasure than Woodstock. Questlove, his team, the performers and anyone else who had a hand in uncovering this gem deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom for cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” — Brian S.

“This is a movie that everyone should see. The musical performances are incredible, the message is moving and resonates in the current climate just as much as it did then.” — Jen L.

“Every moment is both exhilarating, enlightening and undeniable.” — Mary J.

Other viewers expressed incredulity at not having previously encountered the Harlem Cultural Festival, around which the film revolves. Remember, footage from the festival languished in a basement for almost 50 years.

“I was deeply ashamed that as a lover of history with B.A. in U.S. history, a history teacher, and now a candidate for an M.A. in U.S. history, I had never heard of the Harlem Cultural Festival. The documentary is such an important piece of history and I am grateful that it has been found. There is so much to learn from it. It is going to open up a lot of dialogue about the rift between white and Black America that is so prevalent today.” — Irma C.

“I really can’t explain the obscurity of this, given the events of the time. I was [a] music-savvy 11 year-old boy living in upstate NY, and I heard nothing of this festival. I was as totally tuned in to the music scene in the ’60s, at least as much as any 11-year-old could be. I remember nothing mentioned about this, either at the time, or in the intervening years. This seems strange given the times, and the top artists performing. It’s as if it never happened, or there was some kind of concerted effort to ignore/suppress it by the news outlets. Even if the national news outlets hadn’t covered it, I would have thought I would have heard about it via the local New York news.” — Barry S.

Thanks for watching “Summer of Soul” with us. We’ll be back next week to unveil the August pick for our the Econ Extra Credit documentary film series. In a series first, we’ll be enclosing a viewing link for newsletter subscribers. Until then.

Got a documentary recommendation you’d like us to consider? Email us at 

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