What ‘Pains’ Leslie Odom Jr. About One Night In Miami’s Sam Cooke


We sit in a little bit of a place of privilege because of Sam’s work. Because Sam walked, Aretha could run, and Aretha gave Whitney wings, and Whitney gave, you know, so you can’t judge some of our ancestors that came before us because they were doing the best they could. You know, Sam wore his hair in a natural. That was radical. He cut the conk out of his hair, there was no process in my hair. He gave, as one of the biggest stars of his day, he gave brothas the confidence to wear that little fro, to wear that lil [gestures to his head] natural thing. That was just not done in his day, so he did his part. But yes, it pains me to think that there was a room, any room in America, that would’ve not opened their arms to Sam Cooke, that he wouldn’t have been accepted. You know for me, ‘cause he’s my guy, any room that didn’t accept him didn’t deserve him. But he knew that acceptance in the Copa, that was money. That’s gonna open the opportunity to make the dough that I need to make around this country, and his talent deserved it. And he didn’t want to be relegated to one section of the business with all that talent that he was bringing to the table.

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