Yes, it’s true. The Godfather of Soul is dead. It’s hard to acknowledge all the impacts James Brown has had on American society. It’s so much broader than music and includes politics, drugs, urban violence, Black identity, sports and so much more.
Mr. Dynamite was more than an entertainer and an icon; he was a force for positive social, cultural and personal change. His power was more an expression of will than a manifestation of skill. To begin life with so little and end it as such a revolutionary force is an amazing example of how much an individual can accomplish.
In my Black History class, I identify the Hardest Working Man in Show Business as one of the 10 most important Black Americans of the 20th century. I can only hope that the positive elements of his legacy (and the lessons of his monumental failures) are remembered as long as his music will be heard.
Soul Brother No. 1, it’s only been a day, but we already miss you.