Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Farewell, Michael -- Not Goodbye

Michael Jackson, pop superstar and entertainer extraordinaire, was celebrated in a memorial service at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday, July 8, 2009. Although the center was filled to capacity by an orderly, respectful audience, the majority of the actual observers watched by way of television around the world. Millions, if not billions, of people stopped to take the time to pay their respects to the person who Motown Records President, Barry Gordy, pronounced to be "the Greatest Entertainer of All Time."

As the youngest member of the former Jackson Five pop music group, Michael went on to develop an explosive career that rocketed him to the top of the charts consistently. He transformed the pop music world through his innovative dance routines, music videos and magnetic music. He was the barrier breaker for African Americans in terms of opportunity and product distribution in a profession well-known for robbing African Americans of their music, credits, opportunities and profits.

Personally, he was one of the most charitable entertainers in the industry, as well as gracious. He was also known as an astute businessman, which will well serve his children and other beneficiaries of his estate. However, his personal life was also troubled, something already well-documented. It is not necessary for me to recount it here.

Nevertheless, in death, just as in life, there are many who still do not understand him, nor the world from which he arose.

The memorial service was a respectful, classy home-going for someone whose genius can not be denied. Time Magazine writer, James Poniewozik, found the service to be "...gaudy and strange...". How little you know about African American funeral customs! We believe in celebrating the life of the deceased with the elements or reminders of what the deceased did in life. It is a positive expression of grief by those who care. Attend an African American funeral service and you will find many of the same elements. Michael's just happened to be on a grander scale because he lived on a global scale. Attendees in the Staple Center are to be applauded for their display of sensitivity and respect.

Much controversy still surrounds Michael's life and death. Legal squabbles, rumor and inuendo will continue for a very long time. None of that is of concern to me. Yet, I believe people need to remember what can easily be overlooked.

When this is all said and done, the real tragedy is that there was a man who lived. He was part of a family who loved him. He had young children he was raising who he loved and who loved him. That family is now without a son, brother, and uncle. Those children are now without a father. Their grief is real. Their loss runs deep and will continue for the rest of their lives. Once the media finds another "hot" story and everyone else has gone back to their own personal lives, the Jackson family will still have to cope with missing their Michael.

If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know how they feel.

For the public, Michael will continue to live on through his music, his videos and his charities. He connected with the masses on the basis of our humanity. Although his family must say, "Goodbye," for us it is not. It is only, "Farewell." We are greatly blessed.

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