How does one say goodbye to someone who has always been a part of their entire life? An entertainer whose first song “Big Boy” is one that the mainstream press doesn’t readily acknowledge. But that is the first Jackson 5 song that I do remember. I still have vivid memories of the first time I heard that song. I was standing in the doorway of my row house in the Cabrini Green projects and the song came on the radio.
It was a warm spring day and I can recall the pride in hearing that a group of young black brothers out of Gary, Ind. were singing a song on the radio. It was wonderful growing up with a group like The Jackson 5. For every young girl, there was a Jackson in your age group to fall in love with. From the tall and handsome Jackie, to Jermaine – who was the heartthrob for my age group – to little Michael. There was a brother to fulfill any young girl’s fantasy.
I only saw Michael Jackson perform live once in my entire life. And that was as an adult. I was leaving a Jewel store on the north side when an older woman approached me. She had won Michael Jackson concert tickets and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in seeing the performance. My daughter was seven at the time and I felt it would be a good opportunity for her to see the hottest entertainer in history. So I paid the woman the money she wanted and took my daughter to the Rosemont Horizon to view the show.
If memory serves me correct, the concert was on a school day. And my daughter, being a young child, fell asleep halfway through the concert. But I was awake and enjoyed the entire performance.
Like many people, I have followed Michael Jackson’s meteoric rise to fame. Unless you’re under the age of 16, you remember when Michael Jackson broke the major color barrier on MTV. He was always at the forefront of groundbreaking initiatives in terms of artistic development. His music videos for “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” and “Bad” Black, and on and on, will live on forever.
I recently got the chance to watch a rebroadcast of Martin Bashir’s Living with Michael Jackson interview from 2003. In light of his death, the interview was even more chilling than when I saw it the first time. Considering that Michael Jackson was never convicted of child molestation charges-and the first boy that accused him has since recanted, according to several Web sites-I won’t focus on that part of his life. But what I will look at was just how gifted Michael Jackson was.
He was gifted with the ability to be a commensurate entertainer. Put Michael Jackson next to anyone who has studied dance their entire life and you never once took your eyes off of him. His moves were so smooth, pure and fresh that he outshone everyone else.
I also heard the pain in his voice and in his mind as he retold Bashir the story of being teased by his father during his years following puberty. The nose and acne jokes were taken very seriously by a young man who had basically grown up in the public spotlight. If Michael’s death serves any purpose it is that the black psyche isn’t as strong as many in our community assume. There are young children who are brilliant, but who are pained by the harsh words of the adults in their lives.
I got a text message last Thursday that told of Michael Jackson’s death. The text was more accurate than the regular media, who were still reporting him just being in the hospital. The news of his death was shocking and devastating. He will be always loved and forever missed. None of us know when our time on this earth will be up. But while we are here, let us honor Michael Jackson’s message of love for one another.