The World Mourns Michael Jackson

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[The Big News]

If you depend only on your eyes and ears for information, you are a good candidate for believing a lie. 

If you somehow want to find the truth, follow your heart; and if you find yourself in a position to judge, make sure you have a clear and open mind.

Yesterday, the news about the death of Michael Jackson came as a shock, highly unbelievable and mostly unwanted news.  But, the moment of truth quickly settled, as different news organizations began to report what had already come over text messages – “Michael Jackson has made his transition in a L. A. hospital.”

The day started out beautiful as my family attended the Harlem Renaissance High School graduation at the historic Schomburg Center Library and watched my grandniece receive her regent’s diploma.  As my family gathered to celebrate, the news hit us all like a ton of bricks. I was already in Harlem and the only place I thought to go was the famous Apollo on 125th Street.

When I arrived, hundreds of people were in front of the Apollo dancing, singing Michael Jackson’s songs and celebrating Michael’s works. 

Later in the evening, hundreds quickly turned into thousands as African Americans, European Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans—there was a United Nations show of respect for this moment in time. 

As hands extended in the air to the reaction to all the songs being played, you witnessed the different shades of skin coming together as Americans do.

Michael was loved when he was singing and dancing on stage, but when he began to let us know who was mean and racist in the music, another Michael was being created in the media and the legal attacks began.  Some of us have to do more than just dance to the music – we have to also listen to it.

Rev. Al Sharpton said he was shocked and numb after learning of the death of Michael Jackson.  It was Jackson who came to Harlem and stood on the stage at the National Action Network and told the world that he was under attack. “Many ridiculed him,” Sharpton recalled. “It’s amazing in the last hour to see how many people are now praising him that wouldn’t go near him in the last several years and condemned him.”

Negativity tried to play its hand, but there were too many people there to recognize Michael Jackson’s music and his life, not what some wanted to destroy him with.  Everyone had a story to tell and many began with, “I grew up listening to Michael Jackson’s music.”

“I enjoy this.  I had to get off the bus. They tried to kill him, but they can’t kill the spirit,” said Harlem’s Mayor, Queen Mother Moore.

What is not talked about enough is how much Michael Jackson cared about education.  He established college scholarships, which hundreds of students benefited from through the United Negro College Fund but never loud-mouthed it.

When darkness settled in, a group started across the street from the Apollo as a portable music box was placed on top of a car playing Michael Jackson’s songs.  The music was being played by a guy who would only give his name as “Pete Love,” as people danced on the sidewalk. The sound was not that powerful, which made some people move to the street slowing down traffic on 125th Street.

“I couldn’t stay in the house,” said Harlem resident Joarvonia Skipwith. “I had to come here.  I always play his music around his birthday and my family knows how big a fan I am.  They kept calling me and I couldn’t pick up the telephone.”

“The entire Apollo family is saddened to learn of Michael Jackson’s untimely passing,” said Jonelle Procope, President & CEO, Apollo Theater Foundation Inc. “Michael first performed at the Apollo in 1969 with his brothers winning Amateur Night, and catapulting their career as the Jackson 5.  We will always remember Michael in our hearts as a true Apollo legend, known for his professionalism and grace.  Our sympathy goes out to his entire family.  He will be deeply missed.”

Very few people know but last year in a Muslim ceremony, Michael took his Shahada and changed his name to “Mikaeel.”  He was then preparing to commence a 50 city tour in Europe. 

I’m going to respect the family’s wishes, but will keep an open mind as to this death being looked at as a homicide – just me thinking out loud.  

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