Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., on the Passing of Herb Kent, “The Cool Gent”

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The legendary Herb Kent was always the coolest gent in the room. With his melodious voice and smooth style, Herb was the epitome of Chicago radio for 70 years.

I am so grateful that I got to spend some time with him just a couple of weeks ago. Herb interviewed me as he broadcast his show from my 75th birthday celebration at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition national headquarters in Chicago. When he walked into the building, everyone whipped out their cellphone cameras and crowded around his broadcast table, taking selfies and shaking his hand.

What an honor. What a birthday present to have him there that day.

Herb was one of the “Good Guys,” the proud posse of African American disc jockeys and producers – men and women – who turned WVON radio into “The Voice of a Nation” during the freedom struggle of the 1960’s. The station was the go to spot on the radio dial for the latest news about the Civil Rights Movement and the hottest sounds from Motown. Berry Gordy sent every song he produced to WVON before anywhere else.

If a song got played on WVON, word quickly spread across the country – another hit was coming out of Chicago. Herb and the other Good Guys – including such legends as Don Cornelius, Lucky Cordell and Bernadine C. Washington – helped make a sky full of stars.

A piece of Soul Heaven has opened up today. The Cool Gent has gone home.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Founder and President

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

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