Michael Jackson 1958-2009

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The King of Pop is dead. What an incredibly tragic ending to an epic life.

When TMZ announced Michael’s death I just sat there slack jawed.  I knew it was true because they’re always right, but I didn’t want to believe it.   I had been surfing the web madly for several minutes when I saw it.  From the initial reports I could tell that the end was near.  Now that it is over I am just numb.

The world’s most legendary living entertainer has died at the young age of 50. We admired the showman, the incredible dancer, writer, singer, and composer, but we never really knew him. Behind the entourage, security, screaming fans, and the outlandish and palatial estates, was a tragic and reclusive figure that never seemed to thrive despite his fame and success.  That Michael, the fragile tentative soul that millions never got to know, is gone forever. I mourn for him. Many judged him by the farcical dysfunction and the over-the-top-lifestyle.  Some judged him by the salacious allegations of abuse. Others took his measure by looking at his entire life.  What I saw was a tremendous amount of pain and a hole in his spirit that could never be filled. We never got to see what caused his pain, but we could all see that it was there.   The sweet, shy little boy whose music defined my generation is gone and I will miss him deeply.

While Oprah Winfrey got credit early and often for the more than $300 million she has donated to various charities, Michael Jackson, who was a celebrity before Oprah was in High School, equaled her in his donations to charity making the pair the biggest black philanthropists in U.S. History.   The chief patron of the Heal the World Foundation, which he started, also made the 2000 Guinness Book of Records for being the pop star with the most charitable commitments.  All told, Jackson was a patron to more than 39 organizations:

AIDS Project L.A.
American Cancer Society
Angel Food
Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles
BMI Foundation, Inc.
Brotherhood Crusade
Brothman Burn Center
Camp Ronald McDonald
Childhelp U.S.A.
Children’s Institute International
Cities and Schools Scholarship Fund
Community Youth Sports & Arts Foundation
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
Dakar Foundation
Dreamstreet Kids
Dreams Come True Charity
Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
Love Match
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Minority Aids Project
Motown Museum
NAACP
National Rainbow Coalition
Rotary Club of Australia
Society of Singers
Starlight Foundation
The Carter Center’s Atlanta Project
The Sickle Cell Research Foundation
Transafrica
United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
United Negro College Fund Ladder’s of Hope
Volunteers of America
Watts Summer Festival
Wish Granting
YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw

Katie McKoy of Examiner.com has compiled an impressive list of Michael’s philanthropic accomplishments. Go on over to her page and show that young lady some love.  Try and keep your mouth closed while you read the list.  I bet you can’t, I couldn’t.  It is amazing how one of the most lonely celebrities in the world was able to give back to the less fortunate some of the love and adulation of his fans gave him.  His compassion seemed boundless.  It is all the more amazing to realize that had Michael not given away this massive fortune, he would have been financially secure.  Rather than focus solely on himself, he lavished attention and love on others.

The tragedy of Michael’s life is that his career, family and philanthropy weren’t able to help him heal the deep emotional scars of a lost childhood.   Michael is free now, free from the burdens of celebrity and free from the pain of scandal and loss of innocence.  Mourn his passing but remember the richness of his legacy.   Lift up Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, Janet,  Mr. Joe, Miss Katherine, and little Michael Joseph, Paris Michael and Prince Michael in your prayers.

29 thoughts on “Michael Jackson 1958-2009

  1. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson…all gone. My childhood and youth.

    I think of being little, and the only way you saw Ed McMahon was if you snuck out of bed, and was standing in the doorway, trying to hide from your parents as they watched Carson in the living room (no such thing as a tv in every room). Sometimes they scolded you, other times, they told you to come on and sit with them.

    Farrah – Charlie’s Angels was revolutionary for its time, as odd as that might seem now. That poster was everywhere, and we wanted that hair.

    Michael – wow…for my sisters, who actually went to see The Jackson Five routinely when they were growing up, to me being fully aware of Michael with Off The Wall first, then Thriller, and him MAKING MTV, and all that meant.

    Before him, it was still Black Music and Top 40 (i.e., White) Music.

    After him, began the ascension of Black Music AS Top 40 music.

    MTV should build a statue to him.

    Every popular Black artist today owes something to Michael Jackson. He did so many different things, refusing to be pigeonholed, that the multi-hyphenated artist is now commonplace. But, Michael was the one who blew open those doors.

  2. When I was a little kid, my brothers and I used to perform Jackson 5 songs for my parents. We used to practice for hours in order to get the moves and the pitch just right. I got to play Michael because I was the youngest and I had the highest voice. Man, I miss those days. God bless Michael.

  3. rikyrah,

    Thank you for sharing that touching memory. The funniest thing I’ll remember him for is that gawd-awful gheri curl that we all went out and copied. It seems like we all had one. My momma did. So did I. My grandma even got caught up in the horrible fad. Do you remember that scene in Coming to America when the three people got off the couch and they each left a stain on the couch? Yeah, that was us, man.

  4. Been clicking around. Who woulda thought that the most respectful coverage I’ve seen has been MTV? They respected his musical genius, while everyone else just couldn’t wait to talk about his demons.

  5. Ernesto

    A prisoner of his own celebrity. Very sad but at least he’s at peace now. My favorite MJ video:

  6. Nona

    What an amazingly sensitive, respectful and insightful tribute you have written. Thank you for being your wonderful self.

  7. Cliff

    My favorite video.

    Shout out to all the Michael Jackson fans, Rest in Peace to the King, we love you.

  8. Tyren M.

    Ditto Rikyrah. Childhood is gone.
    I remember the cartoons. J5 v the Osmonds . “Anything your brother can do, mine can do better!” Motown 25! Everybody in school trying to do the moonwalk the next day. Michael MAKING MTV. Moving from Minneapolis to Portland Oregon hearing “We are the World” in North Dakota, on every channel that the radio could get in. I hope his humanitarism is highlighted over later allegations… RIP.

  9. Anonymous

    Umm, not to ruin SB’s tribute, but where is Obama’s statement on this? I didn’t come across anything on google. I’m hoping it isn’t the case that while foreign heads of state have issued statements, the US President, an African American, can’t be bothered to make one.

  10. Another memory: back in the late 80s I was a junior in college and was studying in Spain. I took a trip to the Canary Islands. One afternoon I rented a motorcycle and rode to this remote village. It was big news that a stranger was in the town, so the people in this village gathered around to greet me. A little boy asked, “Where are you from?” “America,” I told him. “America!” he exclaimed. “Dios mio! Do you know Michael Jackson!” That is how much juice MJ had.

    • rikyrah,

      Monica Conyers is a *@#$ disgrace. I have been following this but I will comment on this crap later. All she had to do was keep her nose clean and be respectful of the public, they would have promoted her to Congress when the time came. She won’t strapped for cash so I don’t get why the fool sold her vote.

  11. SB,

    when you feel like it, you gotta tackle Sanford.

    now, we’ve got a ‘ second’ Other Woman, and this mofo won’t resign because ‘ King David’ didn’t.
    and, his wife is giving him the SHIV every chance she can.

    • rikyrah,

      I had planned on addressing Sanford but that won’t be happening. Don’t nobody care, honey. Not now anyway. As for Ms. Sanford, good for her. He deserves everything she gives him. If not for her, he wouldn’t be Governor.

  12. Chesapeake

    SB, I enjoyed your generous tribute to this generous man. Thank you for making the point that he gave away a fortune. I’m praying God’s healing ministry on MJ’s children, family, beneficiaries of his outpouring, and his fans.

    … Meanwhile, radio is good again (well for a few days). I have been really the anthologies. MJ was “BAD!”

  13. SB I applaud your coverage of Michael. Would that everyone could appreciate the light he brought to the world, rather than the salacious rumor mongering that is becoming the bread and butter story of his passing.

    I hope that there won’t be concerted effort to tarnish MJ over allegations of impropriety with children, allegations of financial instability, and allegations of drug abuse. No matter what anyone may think, there has never been any finding of wrongdoing on Michael’s part, and at this point, suggestions that there were are IMO, grossly inappropriate.

    I was speaking to a friend today, who said he couldn’t wait to see the extravaganza that they must be preparing to send Michael off the right way. I had to tell him that I hope the family decides to have a very very private service, no media, little attention. Because now that the initial shock of his passing is dying down, there is no need to be PC, and the only story the media will carry will be the allegations.

    And to Anon@9:25, Barak has done a lot to make me question him. Not making a personal statement was bad enough. Sending a blurb through his press rep, and having the major focus of that comment be the supposed tragedy and trouble of MJ’s life, has moved him even further down on my list. He is fast becoming the Head House Negro in Charge, at least in my book.

    Earth Song is one of my favorites, especially of MJ’s later work. This man truly wanted to Heal the World. A big part of his legacy should be that he gave his all to that cause.

    • Exodus,

      Thank you for your generous praise. You are always so warm and thoughtful. I haven’t added you to my blogroll and will remedy that today. Please come back often because you’re always welcome.

  14. ph2072

    Excellent post.

    It’s been about 5 days and it still feels surreal. It’s very sad and seems very unfair that a man of such talent is gone while all of these talent-less entertainers are still here to destroy our ears. However, MJJ was a tormented soul and he is finally at rest.

  15. Burroughston Broch

    Don’t bother lifting up Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, Janet, Mr. Joe and Miss Katherine in your prayers. This group of dysfunctional and grasping people played a major role in the flawed soul that Michael became.

    Instead, lift up his children Michael Joseph, Paris Michael and Prince Michael in your prayers – they will need all of them. God only knows what they have been through in their young lives, and God only knows what they will get with their loving extended family.

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