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Showing posts with label michael jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michael jackson. Show all posts

Rev Al Sharpton's amazing speech at Michael Jackson Memorial



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One of the highlights of the Michael Jackson Memorial is an amazing speech given by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton's always a lighting rod for criticism for his "tell-it-like-it-is" style, and he presented it at the memorial. Sharpton gave one of the best speeches I've ever heard because it cut deep to the core reasons why many people love and defend Michael Jackson and for another reason: Jackson represents the growth of mainstream American Culture, where people paid less attention race and more attention to what they liked regardless of the skin color of the person who made what they liked.

Sharpton walked up and delivered an old-fashioned unplanned stump stemwinder speech. The kind I'd expect to hear from him in church. Here's the transcript of Sharpton's masterpiece presented by Seattlemedium.com:


All over the world today people are gathered in love viduals to celebrate the life of a man that taught the world how to love.


People may be wondering why there’s such an emotional outburst. But you would have to understand the journey of Michael to understand what he meant to all of us. For these that sit here as the Jackson family - a mother and father with nine children that rose from a working class family in Gary, Indiana - they had nothing but a dream.


No one believed in those days that this kind of dream could come true, but they kept on believing and Michael never let the world turn him around from his dreams. I first met Michael around the 1970 Black Expo, Chicago, Illinois. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who stood by this family till now, and from that day as a cute kid to this moment, he never gave up dreaming. It was that dream that changed culture all over the world. When Michael started, it was a different world. But because Michael kept going, because he didn’t accept limitations, because he refused to let people decide his boundaries, he opened up the whole world.


In the music world, he put on one glove, pulled his pants up and broke down the color curtain where now our videos are shown and magazines put us on the cover. It was Michael Jackson that brought Blacks and Whites and Asians and Latinos together. It was Michael Jackson that made us sing, “We are the World” and feed the hungry long before Live Aid.


Because Michael Jackson kept going, he created a comfort level where people that felt they were separate became interconnected with his music. And it was that comfort level that kids from Japan and Ghana and France and Iowa and Pennsylvania got comfortable enough with each other until later it wasn’t strange to us to watch Oprah on television. It wasn’t strange to watch Tiger Woods golf. Those young kids grew up from being teenage, comfortable fans of Michael to being 40 years old and being comfortable to vote for a person of color to be the President of the United States of America.


Michael did that. Michael made us love each other. Michael taught us to stand with each other. There are those that like to dig around mess. But millions around the world, we’re going to uphold his message. It’s not about mess, but it’s about his love message. As you climb up steep mountains, sometimes you scar your knee; sometimes you break your skin. But don’t focus on the scars, focus on the journey. Michael beat ‘em, Michael rose to the top. He out-sang his cynics, he out-danced his doubters; he out-performed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down, he got back up. Every time you counted him out, he came back in. Michael never stopped. Michael never stopped. Michael never stopped.


I want to say to Mrs. Jackson and Joe Jackson, his sisters and brothers: We thank you for giving us someone that taught us love; someone who taught us hope. We want to thank you because we know it was your dream too.


We know that your heart is broken. I know you have some comfort from the letter from the President of the United States and Nelson Mandela. But this was your child. This was your brother. This was your brother. This was your cousin. Nothing will fill your hearts’ lost. But I hope the love that people are showing will make you know he didn’t live in vain. I want his three children to know: Wasn’t nothing strange about your Daddy. It was strange what your Daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it…He dealt with it anyway. He dealt with it for us.


So, some came today, Mrs. Jackson, to say goodbye to Michael. I came to say, thank you. Thank you because you never stopped, thank you because you never gave up, thank you because you never gave out, thank you because you tore down our divisions. Thank you because you eradicated barriers. Thank you because you gave us hope. Thank you Michael. Thank you Michael. Thank you Michael!


Fox News Bill O'Reilly said Sharpton's speech was racist, but that's certainly not the dumbest thing I've ever heard O'Reilly say - his crack about not knowing "Black restaurants" could be nice places to go to takes the prize - but it's close.

The bottom line is Michael Jackson did change American Culture. Think about it. He became a singing star just four years after the passage of The Civil Rights Amendment in 1964 and continued to produce hit after hit to his death, all the time gaining fans around the World who didn't care what color his skin was; they just liked his music and him. That's powerful, and all the more so when one considers the racial problems we've seen and experienced. It's really gotten better and Jackson deserves a lot of credit for that.

Conservatives can't deal with anyone telling the truth about race relations, but they'd better start because it's their inability to understand how race relations have changed that has doomed the political future of conservatives and of the GOP.

A political party historically based on hating a racial group - as was true for the GOP for decades - can't survive when people of different colors are mating as one. Causing that in a small way is but one of Michael Jackson's gifts to society. If it's hard for you to deal with that fact, one of the "hard facts that create America" as President Lincoln would say, you're not American at all because you don't get your own country.

Michael Jackson passes | public opinion: "We Are The World"



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Michael Jackson's passing is still a shock to me. The very idea that someone I feel like I grew up with left us at the age of 50 is just not right at all. I first saw Michael perform when I was 10 years old at the old Chicago International Amphitheatre in 1972; the Campbell family, who babysat me, took me and I remember it like it was yesterday. The Jackson Five was then the must see event and Michael was the star.

Michael was like my brother. In a way for many African Americans he was just that, a sibling. I knew him as the guy who grew up in Gary, Indiana. We knew people who knew them in Chicago, so I felt close to him long ago. I think it's for that reason so many African Americans were on Michael's side during the years when it seems he was kind of flying the coup: changing his skin color from brown to near white; narrowing his nose, and basically seeming to channel his best friend the legendary singer Diana Ross. Then, of course, there were the claims that he "liked boys" which we figured wasn't the case, and was more a byproduct of the money and attention seeking people who surrounded him. Michael was a person with an arrested development: he never had a childhood so to escape the trappings of a constant adult life, he created a childhood for himself.

I think being an adult just literally killed Michael.

For me, Michael Jackson was the person who wanted to bring us all together, as shown in his "We Are The World" effort. That amazing production and song, created with a group of the World's best known music talents, with Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Steve Perry, Bob Dylan, the late Ray Charles, and a host of others and to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, was just amazing. Amazing. I loved that song then; I still do today and I cry every time I hear it. (the lyrics and video are at the end of this post).


Talking with people About Michael's passing


The death of Michael Jackson is one of those events that will cause you to remember where you were when you learned of it. In my case I'd just emerged from a private movie screening at the Saul Zaentz Film Center in West Berkeley, CA. My Mom just happened to call with the news as I was walking to my car; I was stunned. Just stunned. So I took my Flip Video Camera and set out to talk to people about what happened to Michael. I had plenty of places to do this: the BART train station, the San Francisco Magazine "Best of The Bay" party, and all points in between.

What's amazing is the sheer number of people who were immediately informed via text messages and the reactions: shock, sadness, but not joy. No. No one expressed anything close to that at all, even given the part of his life where it seemed he was overwhelmed with "kid" issues. Nothing.

Dominic Phillips, the master of event planning in San Francisco, and who produced last night's "San Francisco Magazine Best of The Bay" party said "It's horrible. First and formost, anybody dying is horrible. There are so many family members that are just gonna be torn apart. But also Michael Jackson; on the one hand he was a very maverick person. But on the other hand he was part of my generation's life. He was like part of my experience, my growing up and I feel a little robbed that he's not there anymore. Like whether you thought his experience was your experience,that doesn't really come into it for me. I just sort of bonded with him in my youth and now he's gone."

Another woman I talked to on Howard Street in San Francisco said "I was just walking and three people got text messages (that he died)...just terrible. My friend Beth Schnitzer, who's the Director of Sponsorship Marketing at Pier 39 said "I can't believe it. Every time I listen to his music, it brings back a great memory from growing up somehow, some way. You know, it really hasn't hit me. He was too young; way too young." Jerusha, "The Last Single Girl In The World" said, as only she can, "We all have to go sometime and boy did he have a fabulous life before he went. He did it up and he did it up right. You know what they say, you only live once and that's all you need if you do it right!"

I talked to a lot of people, and if you see my video there are more than what's presented here, but all just variations on what was expressed. People loved Michael, warts and all. The "Best of The Bay" event turned into a kind of tribute to Michael, with his music playing continuously through the evening, and people danced, especially to "Thriller" which is a modern classic.

Sad day it was to have this happen. Michael, the world will miss you.

We Are The World - Lyrics and video:

Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones.



There comes a time
When we head a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can't go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of
God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart
So they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well, let us realize
That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

[Chorus]
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me