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Smokie Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Rev. Jesse Jackson and more say last goodbyes to Don Cornelius

Don Cornelius
Yesterday, hundreds of family, friends and entertainers gathered together to say their last goodbyes to Don Cornelius. Cornelius, 75, died February 1st, as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Soul Train” became one of television’s longest running syndicated shows, broadcast from 1971 to 2006. Cornelius gave up his hosting duties in 1993.

In 1995, Cornelius was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dozens spoke of how Cornelius affected their lives.

The nearly three-hour memorial service featured plenty of laughter and music, including a rousing performance of “Love’s In Need of Love” by Stevie Wonder.

Pastor Donnie McClurkin led the service. He spoke of how he and his siblings were able to catch up on all the latest music and dance moves on Saturdays by watching Soul Train.

The legendary Smokie Robinson stated, “I’m really happy to be here because Don was my brother and I am celebrating his life.” He then joked, “I don’t know what the rest of you are doing”.

Robinson told the crowd, “He started a platform for black people that before that time had not been seen. It had been heard, but it had not been seen.”

Basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson spoke of meeting Cornelius after he started playing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 1990s.

“Shoot, I come around the corner and I see that big ‘fro, I already knew who it was,” Johnson said as the crowd burst into laughter. He continued, “but I was scared because I always wanted to meet him.”

Stevie Wonder pondered at the thought of the pleasure Cornelius would have in having Whitney Houston, who died on Saturday at the age of 48, join him and other musicians in heaven.

“I can only hope we continue to keep this man’s life and legacy alive,” Wonder said.

Reverend Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy, focusing on how Cornelius gave a platform for black entertainers.

“We reveal our successes to the world but we conceal our pain,” said Jackson. He reminded people to remember him for all that he meant to the world, including building “Soul Train”.

“It brought joy. It brought pride. It brought talent. It brought hope. It brought opportunity. It blazed trails. It reconciled racism,” he said. “Tell them what you know, not what you imagine.”