Who’d have thought that an average little kid from Gary, Indiana would become a household name. As you know, waves of controversy pounded Michael off and on over all the years of his life. I always liked his hits on the radio and thought he was an amazing talent, but I never saw past the glitter and his “top 10” songs until after his tragic death. Then I began “Googling” as I always do. What I found made me sad. Sad that I hadn’t taken a closer look at Michael while he was alive, and sad that he was gone. The world will never be the same.
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958-June 25, 2009) was the eighth of ten children in a working-class family who lived in a small 3-room house in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. His mother, Katherine Esther Scuse, was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson, was a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, LaToya, and Janet, and five brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy A sixth brother, Brandon, died shortly after birth. I’m sure you’ve heard about the abuse Michael endured from his father and maybe even seen the “The Jackson’s: An American Dream” movie. I ended up having strong thoughts and feelings about Michael. He was an amazing person.
There are innocent and carefree qualities about him that I can relate to myself. There was no malice and no hidden agenda. He wore his heart on his sleeve. Growing up he was denied a typical childhood, and he knew what it was like to lack. He had a spirit that believes that you get more from giving than receiving. (as I do) That’s what motivated him to share what he could with kids, and with others who were bound to a less fortunate way of life or to an illness. And plus,what grown people were going to climb trees, ride rides, bake cookies and play games? He wanted to know what it felt like to be a kid. That’s why he built Neverland and not the Playboy Mansion. I believe it was that simple.
You hear about so many bands, singers and actors going through rehab, going psycho, and going under. You never saw that from Michael. No secret porn was ever discovered anywhere in his home or on his computers after his death, his kids don’t appear to be basket cases, and his friends were upstanding, decent people. (Well, Chris Brown turned out to be a dingbat) As the circus of paparazzi and memory of the negative accusations fade, the extraordinary good he did is allowed to shine.
He was an incredible humanitarian. (which not everyone’s aware of) If you didn’t get that from the lyrics to his songs like. “Man In The Mirror”, “Earth Song”, “Heal The World” or “Cry”, here are some efforts he supported behind the scenes and humanitarian awards he earned:
January 10, 1984, Michael Jackson visited the unit for burn victims at Brotman-Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, and demonstrated his concern with people suffering from grievous injuries
April 9, 1984, David Smithee, a 14-year-old boy suffering from cystic fibroses was invited to Michael’s home, in response to a dying request to meet Michael. David passed away 7 weeks later
April 14, 1984, Michael Jackson was single handedly responsible for equipping a 19-bed-unit at Mount Sinai New York Medical Center. This center is now a critical part of the T.J. Martell Foundation for leukemia and cancer research
July 5, 1984, during the Jackson’s press conference at Tavern On The Green, Michael announced that his portion of the earnings from the Victory Tour would be donated to three charitable organizations: The United Negro College Fund, Camp Good Times, and the T.J. Martell Foundation
July 14, 1984, after the first concert of the Victory Tour, Michael met 8 terminally ill children backstage
December 13, 1984, Michael visited the Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he had been treated when he was burned during the producing of a Pepsi commercial. He subsequently donated all the money he received from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children
1984- Michael was awarded the “Presidential Humanitarian Award” for continuing human endeavors
January 28, 1985 Michael and 44 other artists met to record ‘We Are The World’, written by Michael and Lionel Ritchie, a project devoted to fighting global hunger. The proceeds of this record were donated to the starving people in Africa
1986, Michael set up the ‘Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund’. This $1.5 million fund is aimed toward assisting students majoring in performance art and communications, with money given each year to students attending a UNCF member college or university
February 28, 1986, after having had a heart-transplant, 14-year-old Donna Ashlock from California received a call from Michael Jackson. He had heard that she was a fan. Michael invited Donna to his home following her recovery
October 1987, at the end of his ‘Bad Tour’, Michael donated personal items to UNESCO for a charitable auction. The proceeds of his donation were allocated for the education of children in developing countries
February 1, 1988 The Song ‘Man In the Mirror’ entered the charts. The proceeds from the sales of this record went directly and exclusively to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from Cancer
April 1988, Michael Jackson ensured that free tickets to three concerts in Atlanta, Georgia, were specifically set aside for the Make a Wish Foundation
May 22, 1988, Michael visited cancer-stricken children in the Bambini-Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome. He signed autographs and gave away sweets and records to the young patients. He also announced his monetary donation of 100,000 pounds to the hospital
July 16, 1988, Michael met the Prince of Wales and his wife Diana, where he donated 150,000 pounds for the Prince’s Trust, and a check of 100,000 pounds for the children’s hospital at Great Ormond Street
July 20, 1988, Michael visited terminally ill children at Great Ormond Street Hospital. At a unit for less critical patients he stayed longer and to engage in story telling time with the children
January 1989, the proceeds of one of Michael’s shows in Los Angeles were donated to Childhelp USA, the biggest charity organization against child abuse. In appreciation of the contributions of Michael, Childhelp of Southern California founded the ‘Michael Jackson International Institute for Research On Child Abuse’
March 5, 1989, Michael invited 200 underprivileged children of the St. Vincent Institute for Handicapped Children and of the organization Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the Circus Vargas in Santa Barbara. Following the event, the children were invited to his ranch to visit his private Zoo at Neverland Ranch
1988-won the “Leonard Carter Humanitarian Award” for his humanitarian endeavors
Jackson won an award from the National Urban Coalition, for his humanitarian endeavors, in 1989
Jackson was awarded with a humanitarian award, from the Capitol Children Museum, in 1990
December 1991, Michael’s office MJJ Productions donated more than 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles
February 3, 1992, at a press conference at the New York Radio City Music Hall, Michael announced that he is planning a new world tour, to raise funds for his new ‘Heal The World’ Foundation. This Foundation was designed to support the fight against AIDS, Juvenile Diabetes, the Ronald McDonald Camp, and the Make A Wish Foundation
February 1992, within 11 days Michael covered 30,000 miles in Africa, to visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions for mentally handicapped children
May 1, 1992, President Bush presented Jackson with an award acknowledging him as “a point of light ambassador”. Jackson received the award in recognition for his efforts in inviting disadvantaged children to his Neverland Ranch.
June 26, 1992, Michael presented the Mayor of Munich, Mr. Kronawitter, with a 40,000 DM check for the needy people of the city
July 1992, Michael donated 821,477,296 Lire to La Partita del Cuore (The Heart Match) in Rome and donated 120,000 DM to children’s charities in Estonia and Latvia
July 25, 1992, at his concert in Dublin, Ireland, Michael announced that he will give 400,000 pounds of the tour earnings to various charities
June 1993, Michael announced a donation of $1.25 million for children suffering as a result of the riots in Los Angeles
1993-Michael receives the “Humanitarian of the Year Award” for humanitarian endeavors
December 1993, in conjunction with the Gorbachev Foundation, Michael Jackson airlifted 60,000 doses of children’s vaccines to Tblisi, Georgia
1994, Michael donated $500,000 to Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS Foundation
October 1, 1996, Michael donated the proceeds of his Tunisia concert to ‘The National Solidarity Fund’, a charity dedicated to fighting poverty
Jackson was awarded with a humanitarian award, from the Crenshaw Community Youth & Arts Foundation, in 1994
In 1995, Jackson won a humanitarian award from the Harry Chapin Memorial
In 1999, Jackson was honoured with a Bollywood Award for his contributions to humanitarianism.
the Millennium Issue of the ‘Guinness Book Of Records’ named Michael as ‘the Pop Star who supports the most charity organizations’
In 2003, Jackson was honoured with a Radio Music Award for his humanitarian endeavors
2004, The African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association, honored Michael Jackson awarded the Golden Elephant Award “for his worldwide humanitarian efforts, due to his fiscal contribution of more than $50 million to various charities, including many organizations that feed the hungry in Africa
These don’t include his musical achievement awards, 387 total. I wasn’t intending to make this post so long, but I just kept finding more, and more and more! I don’t buy that this man was a child molester. He just wasn’t built that way. People scam every day to get rich and Michael had left himself wide open for someone to take advantage of him. He just wanted to be happy and for others to be happy with him. He wanted to laugh, be silly and carefree, and he spent his time caring for and improving other people’s lives. His money allowed him the freedom to do just that, so he did it.
One thing I believe to be true about anyone. You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Elizabeth Taylor, Chris Tucker, Brooke Shields, Joe Pesci, Emmanuel Lewis, Quincy Jones, Lisa Marie Presley, Lou Ferrigno, and Princess Diana were all his friends over the years. I’m not going to do a review of each one of these people, you can if you wish. I do know that birds of a feather flock together. Michael kept good company.
If every one of us do a fraction of the good that Michael Jackson did in 50 short years, imagine how much we’ll have done. He was an amazing entertainer, singer, songwriter, father and man. All we have to do is start with the man in the mirror.