There are a lot of reasons to watch Remastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (available on Netflix), least of which is speculation about the circumstances of his death. The best reason to watch this documentary is the story of Cooke’s life, the story of a very different kind of civil rights leader of the 1950s and ‘60s. Cooke didn’t seek racial justice through political action; he pursued it through success in the business world.
“One of these days, the world is going to know Sam Cooke, and I’m going to help my people,” he said, as quoted in the film.
The Life of Sam Cooke
Cooke was born in Mississippi, but his father, Reverend Charles Cook, moved the family to Chicago early in Sam’s life. Rev. Cook started a church in the Bronzeville section of Chicago, which at the time was home to hundreds of small businesses owned by African-Americans.
Bronzeville was a beautiful place. In that corridor from 43rd and State Street to 51st Street, there must have been two to three hundred black businesses that were vibrant—segregated, of course, all black. It was like a black Wall Street,
said Spencer Leak, himself a black business owner whose family’s funeral home held the first funeral service for Cooke (there was a second funeral in Los Angeles).
So, Sam Cooke grew up in a neighborhood teeming with black entrepreneurs, looking up to a father who himself had made his own way in a world that didn’t exactly set the table for him.
Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.