OAKLAND (BCN) — Bay Area residents can take a step back in time Friday evening to celebrate Soul Beat Day in Oakland at an event honoring Soul Beat, the nation’s first Black-owned cable TV network.

The inaugural celebration started at 6 p.m. at the Busy Wife at 44 Webster St. in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

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July 30 was first proclaimed Soul Beat Day in 1988 to recognize the network’s contribution to the city’s culture. The network broadcast aired from 1978 to 2003.

“It was all we had” in terms of showing our experience, said Chuck Johnson, an Oakland native who described himself as managing partner of Soul Beat Day.

TV then included few Black actors, Johnson said. The network also gave local people a shot at being on TV, he said.

Billy Jam interviews Biz Markie on ‘Soul Beat’ (credit: Billy Jam/Hip Hop Slam/Soul Beat)

Yeah, Black people have BET and other stations that are more national and global, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said in a Facebook post for Soul Beat Oakland.

“But, this was a place where you found out what was happening in the East Bay,” Carson said. “What was happening in Oakland before everybody started calling it Oaktown.”

Oakland city councilmember Carroll Fife said that people had examples on Soul Beat of caring for our community and investment in the community and in “ourselves.”

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Carson said Soul Beat reflected the Black community.

“I don’t care who you were in the Black community, you watched Soul Beat on a daily basis,” Carson said.

“Why? Because there were great movies that came on. There was great entertainment that came on,” Carson said.

Tupac Shakur was on Soul Beat before he became famous, Carson said.

Fife is expected to say a few words at the event Friday evening. She said she won’t be able to stay long.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been invited along with councilmembers Treva Reid and Loren Taylor, along with many others including soul and R&B artist Goapele.

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