In the summer of 1969, a historic Black Festival took place: the Harlem Cultural Festival. The concert series was filled with stars from blues, jazz, R&B and soul and attracted over 300,000 visitors. But due to the ongoing eradication of black historical contributions, many have never heard of it. Fortunately, 52 years later, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is finally giving the spotlight it deserves with his directorial debut. Summer of the soul.
The almost two-hour documentary includes unprecedented performances and comments from festival-goers who witnessed the historic moment. Questlove’s goal in producing the film was simply to “correct the story”. “The fact that 40 hours of this footage has been withheld from the public is living proof that there is a revisionist story,” he said in a press release. “I want to make sure the black annihilation doesn’t happen in my lifetime … and the film was an opportunity to work towards that.” Read all about the history of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival beforehand.