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ASU hosts Soul Train dance in honor of Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, Student Engagement and the Black History Month planning committee collaborated to host a Soul Train dance Tuesday at the Downtown campus.

Public policy and public service senior Kanyinsola Ibiyemi-aluko was one of the organizers of the event.

“This event not only highlights black history but also Soul Train and its impact on the African-American community,” she said. “It shows how much (Soul Train) has evolved and how it is accepting of all different cultures. It appeals to everyone with love, peace and soul.”

This year, all four ASU campuses have contributed several signature events to a master calendar to celebrate the month while simultaneously unifying the celebration. This is the first year ASU campuses have worked together to honor Black History Month.

This year’s theme is exploring African influence throughout the U.S.

Soul Train was an African-American musical variety television program that aired for 35 years. The show primarily featured R&B;, soul and hip-hop artists. Funk, jazz, disco and gospel artists also appeared on the show.

Soul Train originated in 1965 when WCIU-TV, a UHF station in Chicago began airing youth-oriented dance programs. These programs mainly featured African-American dancers. This would eventually set the stage for Soul Train years later.

Don Cornelius, who was a newsreader and disc jockey, was hired by WCIU as a news and sports reporter in 1967. At the time, Cornelius was promoting and emceeing traveling caravan shows, the Soul Train being one of those shows.

Soul Train premiered on WCIU on Aug. 20, 1970. The first program featured Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites and the Emotions.

In the years following, Soul Train broke boundaries and paved the way for musicians worldwide. At the height of its popularity, Soul Train viewers were able to see rich African-American culture in a plethora of dance, music and fashion.

The Soul Train dance showcased some of the show’s most memorable moments like tailored suits, and famous hits like "Ladies' Night," "The Hustle" and "Let's Get It On."

Students attended the event for a variety of different reasons.

"I like to dance,” health sciences senior Ciara Wilson said.

Others went to experience and celebrate the impact of Soul Train. Exercise and wellness sophomore Marlena Peshlakai said she went to the dance to honor Black History Month.

“I think Soul Train had a significant influence on black culture,” she said.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on twitter @kelciegrega

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