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Remembering Don Cornelius
By Danny J. Bakewell, Jr., Contributing Writer
Published February 23, 2012

Friends at memorial for Soul Train legend, Don Cornelius (L to R) Smokey Robinson, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Tony Cornelius, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Photos by COVERUP PHOTOS for the Sentinel

Friends gathered to celebrate the life of a legend

On Thursday, February 16, hundreds of family members, friends and colleagues came to the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery to remember and celebrate the life of entertainment legend and creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius. The celebration of life was a virtual who’s who of the entertainment industry. From Smokey Robinson, to the Whispers, everyone in attendance was there to pay tribute and remember the man who was responsible for bringing Soul into the living rooms of America.

Pastor Donnie McClurkin served as the officiator of the home-going ceremony, but it was the reflections and memories shared by the many speakers that truly paid tribute to Cornelius. Sentinel Publisher Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. stated “There are two institutions in America which transformed the music industry and brought soul to America – Motown and Soul Train.” Legendary singer Smokey Robinson reflected on his times performing on Soul Train and said, “the greatest part of being on Soul Train was that you knew you were going home, you knew the people, you knew the style … it was always a joy to go on Soul Train.”

The life celebration was a joyful event for the man who passed away on February 1, but there was not a dry eye in the house when Cornelius’ grand-daughter, Christina Cornelius, took to the stage to reflect on her life and memories of her grand-father. Christina stated “my grand-father has been called a legend, a visionary, but to me he was just grandpa”.

The ceremony was full of pictures and videos of a life well lived, and of course, there was music. In addition to heart-wrenching rendition of “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin, Musical genius George Duke played a musical tribute to Don Cornelius, as well as Stevie Wonder performed a tribute to his friend.

Cornelius was born September 27, 1936 and died of an apparent suicide on February 1, 2012; he was 75 years young.

In honor of Cornelius, the family has created the Don Cornelius Foundation. The foundation’s dedicated mission is to establish programs for the awareness, prevention and support of those contemplating suicide and/or the survivors who have lost loved ones.


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