Soul Train premieres nationally
Photo: Soul Train Holdings

October 2, 1971

Until Entertainment Tonight surpassed it in 2016, Don Cornelius’s Chicago-born music-and-dance showcase — billed memorably as “sixty nonstop minutes across the tracks of your mind” — was the longest-running syndicated program in American TV history. By the time it went national a year after premiering on WCIU, it was already a huge local hit, beaming its joyful dance party into living rooms all over Chicago. Cornelius told the Tribune, “You go out on the street and try to find a Black who watches anything else between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.” As the audience grew and diversified, that would prove to be understatement.