The Great Don Cornelius was pronounced dead yesterday morning due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Mr. Cornelius was a well-respected fixture in African American culture being that he is responsible for catapulting black music, dance, and style to great heights in mainstream America via his groundbreaking music show, “Soul Train.”

What was once a local Chicago production in 1970, transitioned to the longest-running, nationally syndicated phenomenon. ‘Soul Train’ served as the Saturday morning jump-start for many families. From keeping up with the newest dance crazes to witnessing world legends like Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight grace the television stage for the first time, Cornelius allowed for not only black America but the world to marvel at the greatness that was found amongst our culture. Follow the jump for the entire tribute.

Using his own money, Cornelius invested in the future of dancers and singers alike. He spurred the R&B, Blues, and Hip-Hop genres to national recognition. It was with a seed of $400 that Mr. Cornelius broke barriers that ‘American Bandstand’ could never fathom.

While reflecting on Mr. Cornelius, Quincy Jones shared: “Don was a visionary and giant in our business. Before MTV there was ‘Soul Train.'” The respected producer and composer continued to say, “His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched.”

Thank you for the hippest trip in America and we wish nothing but love, peace, and soul for your family.

Below is a video of BET’s very own Debra Lee remembering the great Don Cornelius. How did Mr. Cornelius influence you?

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