The 1969 Harlem Culture Festival did not “take place in a vacuum”.
In an archive clip from this month’s documentary, “Summer of Soul,” a CBS reporter asks a 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival attendee what he thinks of the moon landing. The viewer says he “doesn’t care”, adding that the money spent on the space mission “could have been used to feed poor black people in Harlem”.
That news clip was never shown on national news, according to the documentary’s production team, who spoke to David Brancaccio this week. And the many hours of video footage taken at the event – from which “Summer of Soul” was developed – has only surfaced in recent years. Maybe the studios and networks at the time, based on assumptions they made about their audience’s preferences, thought they couldn’t sell a show that focused on black performers. But over the years, this forgetfulness becomes an “erasure”, siphoning off an important segment of cultural conversation. The moon landing interview only highlights one of these important – but largely erased – viewpoints.
You can hear David’s full interview with the producers of “Summer of Soul” here. If you’ve seen the movie, we’d love to hear from you. Send us your thoughts and reactions to [email protected] We will post some of your responses in next week’s newsletter.
“Summer of Soul “is showing in select theaters (!) And available to stream at Hulu.