Explore the surprising history and lasting cultural impact of SOUL! America's first "Black Tonight Show" on PBS from 1968 to 1973.
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL!
“A rich and illuminating piece of cultural history.” - Hollywood Reporter
“Mr. SOUL! is unapologetically Black, feminist, and queer. The more you learn about the show and its enigmatic host/creator, Ellis Haizlip, the stranger and cooler it is.” - Woman in Revolt
Ellis Haizlip ensures the Revolution will be televised, with “SOUL!,” America’s first “Black Tonight Show.”
From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.
The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.
Sidney Poitier, Blair Underwood, Harry Belafonte, Quest Love, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou
Mr. Soul Q&A1h 17m
Recorded live on Sunday, August 30th, 2020, this historic, virtual talkback honored Chadwick Boseman, celebrated the Mr. SOUL! film’s Opening Weekend and the March On Washington. Guest host Amanda Seales (Comedian, “Insecure” actress and creator, “Smart Funny & Black”), moderated a conversation with both artists from the film and the original SOUL! series, about the cultural impact of SOUL! and its special guests, like James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, and the legacy of Ellis Haizlip and SOUL! for a millennial audience. The event featured the film’s Producer / Director / Writer Melissa Haizlip; Grammy® and Daytime Emmy® Winner & Executive Producer Blair Underwood; Emmy® winning Producer / Director Stan Lathan; poet and activist Nikki Giovanni; poet and professor Sonia Sanchez; composer and Grammy® winner Robert Glasper, singer & Grammy® winner Lalah Hathaway; R&B singing group Black Ivory – Russell Patterson, Stuart Bascombe and Leroy Burgess; poet and activist from the Young Lords, Felipe Luciano; and poets, activists and the Godfathers of Hip-hop, The Last Poets – Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan.