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“For us, it was a deep blow, because his company and our company, then led by Don’s friend and mentor George Johnson, grew side-by-side with the advent of JPCs joint project “Soul Train,” the first nationally syndicated TV show for, by, about and sponsored by African-Americans. The two companies made history together—Don provided the content and taught America how to dance, while Johnson Products provided the sponsorship through our never before seen commercials featuring Black beauty and Black products. Many take it for granted because today it is quite common to see Black reporters, show hosts, and actors/actresses in shows and commercials, but when Don Cornelius and Johnson Products started Soul Train, it was virtually unheard of.”
Eric Brown and his wife Renee Cottrell Brown interviewed George Johnson two years ago about Johnson Products’ history as the elder Johnson passed the baton of leadership to them. It was the night of “The Great Model Search,” the company’s official re-launch after the Browns, with the help of private investors, purchased it from Proctor & Gamble. Don Cornelius came because George Johnson was being honored at that event at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles. A video clip of Cornelius’ remarks is posted at www.youtube.com/JohnsonProducts.
“Although we had a young crowd that night, everyone remembered Soul Train, so when Don Cornelius appeared on stage, he was welcomed warmly,” said Renee Brown, VP, Sales and Marketing. “It was an historical moment when I stood between those two media giants who were also old friends. We offer our sincere condolences to the Cornelius family.”
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