Let me say that I share your concerns, but you are labouring under a misapprehension. This is not disco. It may share common tropes with disco, and under most circumstances that piano would be a dead giveaway, but you can tell the difference with uncanny accuracy when you simply consider that this is not a pile of vapid shit. Richie Havens was one of the greatest interpreters of other peoples' songs ever, and this Lamont Dozier number has everything that Richie needed to bring out the soul and the motherfucking greatness in it. If you're going to perform a song about cultural identity, you can't afford to make it too personal. You've got to look at the broader picture, see what's going on around you, and that's what this 1980 version does perfectly.
Also, I just really like Richie Havens' voice. That's okay too. Things don't have to be complicated all the time, you know.
Richie Havens - Going Back To My Roots