Reflections on the Death of Michael Jackson: His Legacy, His Influence, His Impact and YOU!
By Ashahed M. Muhammad
Yesterday, June 25, 2009, at about this time, between 4:30PM and 4:45PM CST, I received two text messages and a call from friends inside the UCLA Medical center informing me that the rumors were true, the musical icon, Michael Jackson, was dead at the age of 50.
I along with others had been following the news of his upcoming
I never met Michael Jackson, however, my deepest memory related to him was a truly memorable moment from my childhood.
In the late summer of 1983, I was chosen to be a "back to school" clothing model for a television show called "AM Chicago" hosted by a slightly overweight, yet gracious and professional Black female who at the time was relatively unknown. Her name was Oprah Winfrey. That show later became "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
In context, you all know that many of the morning and daytime shows, especially those geared towards women, have back to school fashion shows. I came to be on that show as a result of my mother answering the call for viewers to send a picture of their children in to the ABC 7 headquarters in
I was picked along with one Caucasian boy, a couple of Caucasian girls, an Asian girl, and I think there was one other young boy who may have been mixed, or Filipino. (I can't remember for sure, but I know he was not White because I remember him having darker skin.) The day before, we were given a choice as to what clothes we would wear and model on the show.
Two "boys" outfits were left. It was between a winter-grey and black camouflage pair of pants, some black hiking boots, a grey sweater and a white turtleneck ensemble and an entire Michael Jackson clothing ensemble, complete with Black parachute pants, red-zippered jacket, and a t-shirt with Michael Jackson's face on the front with the words "Beat It." I think also there was a pair of 'Mr.T' Black hi-tops, so that should give you an idea of the era we were dealing with. (It's fine, you can laugh. I find it comical now also, however, at the time, there was not much greater in the eyes of a youngster of my age than Michael Jackson and Mr.T.)
I thought to myself that it was obvious that I would wear the Michael Jackson ensemble, but it wasn't so obvious to the other White boy who thought he would challenge me. Can you believe that the White boy wanted to wear the Michal Jackson clothes?!?
Even at that early age, I had a high level of race-consciousness. Logically, to me, since Michael Jackson was a Black man, and if anyone was to dress up like him, clearly, it should be another young Black child.
I defeated the young White boy. He didn't really mount a serious challenge to me. I easily dismissed him at the time finding it ridiculous that he would even consider wearing those clothes. He was clearly disappointed and almost cried, but to his credit, he did not.
He acquiesced and wore the camouflage war clothes and I wore the Michael Jackson themed clothing. All those who viewed the "AM Chicago" show on ABC (Channel 7 in Chicago) that next day would never know what happened. Perhaps that was his first lesson in race-consciousness. I wonder if he remembers it as clearly as I do. Although he did not see it at the time, I actually did him a favor by assisting him in preserving his White heritage. Those who view the world through a racial prism clearly understand what I am talking about.
Later in my life as I reflected on that moment over the years, I came to realize that Michael Jackson did in fact transcend many of the racial boundaries established by those in media, including the musical realm. The desire of that young White boy to wear the Michael Jackson themed clothing actual demonstrated at that time, something that is undeniably true today that we see through the actions of many, many White boys worldwide who are doing their best to imitate all aspects of the Black man, in hip-hop, sports, and acting.
This demonstrates our power. It also shows the power that Michael Jackson held and what those unscrupulous outsiders who controlled his life feared which ultimately led to the tragic end that he experienced and that we are all witnessing.
That is another story, to be told at another time that must and will be told.
I will end with this. As many of us were impacted by his tremendous body of work spanning almost his entire life, the musical genius of Brother Michael will be missed.
While we reflect on the moments of happiness brought on by his music, dancing and other appearances, we have to be committed to making sure that the tabloids and unscrupulous media barons aren't allowed to have the final word regarding his legacy.
Remember, WE are responsible for telling the stories of our great entertainers, leaders and scholars - past and present. We cannot expect those who control the media, to accurately reflect who and what he was, and what he meant to the world in general and specifically, the Black nation.
(Ashahed M. Muhammad is a journalist, author, the assistant editor of The Final Call, and the executive director of the Truth Establishment Institute.)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 19, 2009
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA ON THE OCCASION OF JUNETEENTH
On this day in 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, those who found themselves still enslaved in Galveston, Texas had their hopes realized and their prayers answered. Contrary to what others had told them, the rumors they had heard were indeed true. The Civil War had ended, and they were now free.
General Gordon Granger issued the call with "General Order No. 3" saying "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. " June 19, or Juneteenth, is now observed in 31 states. Nearly a century and a half later, the descendants of slaves and slave owners can commemorate the day together and celebrate the rights and freedoms we all share in this great nation that we all love.
This moment also serves as a time for reflection and appreciation, and an opportunity for many people to trace their family’s lineage. African Americans helped to build our nation brick by brick and have contributed to her growth in every way, even when rights and liberties were denied to them. In light of the historic unanimous vote in the United States Senate this week supporting the call for an apology for slavery and segregation, the occasion carries even more significance.
At a time when some people believe that female Hip-Hop artists have become extinct, Queen Yonasda (Pronounced Yo-Naja-Ha) is on the verge of releasing her highly-anticipated debut album “God, Love & Music.”
The album features the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Wu-Tang Clan’s Cappadonna, Keith Murray, Dr. Ben Chavis Muhammad, M-Eighty, Red Cloud and a historic collaboration with all female emcees. She received a larger distribution deal with the assistance of Supa Music Network and G.O.O.D Music’s Kanye West and Malik Yusef.
God, Love & Music will be officially released through 101 Distribution.
The music video for her single “Pow Wow” and a snippet for “You Don't Want No Problems” featuring Cappadonna has been launched. It was produced by New York West Entertainment and directed by Chris Rogers andwas filmed in her hometown
The album will be released July 7 and available everywhere for digital download and retail purchase. It is available via pre-order at http://www.myspace.com/queenyonasda.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2009
Press Contacts: Nancy Mansour-Leigh and Mariam Aryia-Rivera, Existence is Resistance. firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org
From NYC to Gaza: British MP George Galloway joins Progressive Hip Hop Artists Immortal Technique, Lowkey and others as well as Rosa Clemente in Benefit Concert to raise Money for the 2nd Viva Palestina Convoy…
Existence is Resistance organizers that brought you “Hands Off Gaza” and “Hands Off Palestine” present “Hands For Gaza” featuring George Galloway, Rosa Clemente, Immortal Technique, Lowkey, G.O.D., S.O.U.L. Purpose, Aalikes, Marcel Cartier, Rebel Diaz, Mohammad (PR Rappers Gaza) and DJ Vega Benetton to take place Wednesday June 17th, 2009 to raise money for the 2nd Convoy organized by Viva Palestina.
All monies raised are being donated directly to Viva Palestina. The event will be held at ARENA NYC, starting at 6.30pm @ 135 W41ST STREET, NYC. $20 w/ RSVP to email@example.com.
About Viva Palestina: While the bombs were still showering down on what has been called the largest open-air prison in history, Galloway decided to organize a humanitarian convoy that would start in Britain, drive through France and Spain, and across North Africa to arrive in Gaza with aid, even as all borders to the devastated region were under complete blockade.
In just five short weeks, he pulled together 107 vehicles - including ambulances and a fire engine - 255 people and $2 million of aid, which set off from London on February 14. Some 23 days and 5,500 miles later it arrived in Gaza to tumultuous acclaim. The fact that so many people come from Britain whose government had, along with George W Bush, backed the Israeli aggression had an enormous impact on the besieged people of Gaza.
Now, Galloway is heading a second convoy - this time from the USA. The Vietnam War veteran, Ron Kovic, whose experiences in the war led him to become a life-long advocate of a more just US foreign policy, has readily agreed to be co-leader of the convoy. The convoy’s aim is to take hundreds of US citizens in 500 vehicles, bearing $10 million in medical aid from Cairo to Gaza. Convoy participants will leave from JFK airport on July 4, bearing the simple yet powerful message that Palestinian independence is as precious as US independence.
The group will organize the convoy in Cairo and proceed to Gaza the following weekend, proudly waving US and Palestinian flags, as well as banners declaring thousands of supporting organizations and institutions. This is set to be the biggest single aid effort for Palestine ever to leave US shores. It will be a source of great strength and hope for the Palestinian people. It will also have a major impact here in the United States, helping to stir US public opinion about the conflict in the Middle East and to bring about a permanent shift in government policy.
(Photo: Adrian S. Burrows/Burrows Photography)
BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—The last time Benton Harbor made national news was in June of 2003. There was violent civil unrest as Benton Harbor’s Black residents took to the streets following the death of 28-year old Terrance Shurn, who crashed his motorcycle into a building after being pursued by police in a high speed chase. According to media reports, angry protesters shouted “No justice, no peace” overturned cars and set fires frustrated by what they saw as a pattern of unfair targeting and harassment of Benton Harbor’s Black residents.
Police in riot gear accompanied by armored personnel vehicles descended upon the small town of 12,000. According to police, they were shot at by the town’s residents during protests and pelted with bottles and rocks. Some of the protesters were arrested, the city was placed under a state of emergency with enforced curfews.
On June 5, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told political leaders, grass-roots activists and concerned residents at a rally for embattled community activist Rev. Edward Pinkney that God’s universal law of justice is at work and those with the responsibility to dispense justice have a weighty responsibility during his message delivered at Lake Michigan College.
Rev. Pinkney’s Case
In May of 2007, long-time community activist Rev. Edward Pinkney was convicted by an all White jury on four felony counts and one misdemeanor count of voter fraud and ballot tampering. His supporters maintain these were trumped up charges accusing him of being in possession of absentee ballots and paying individuals money to cast votes in his favor.
After being denied a new trial by Berrien County judge Alfred Butzbaugh, Rev. Pinkney wrote an editorial appearing in the November-December 2007 edition (Vol. 34 No.11) of the Chicago-based People’s Tribune, in which he paraphrased a portion of Deuteronomy Chapter 28.
With the help of the ACLU of Michigan, he was released on bond in late December 2008, however, there are several stipulations; he must wear an electronic monitoring device, for which he has to pay $105 per week, and he is not allowed to give speeches, not even in his own church.
Community activists have actively petitioned Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to vacate the conviction or grant him clemency. His legal team has filed a series of appeals. Defense arguments will be heard in the State Appeals Court of Michigan on June 9 in Grand Rapids.
Referring to the fact that Rev. Pinkney was not given permission to attend the Min. Farrakhan told the audience, “It is as though we are still on a plantation, and a man who preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ is denied the freedom to move about because of decisions by judges.”
Min. Farrakhan recalled the words of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad who said, “Justice is the law that distinguishes between right and wrong.” The Minister also pointed out that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad said, “Justice is the weapon that God will use in the Day of Judgment.” This is what is meant in the prophetic utterances that “all of us have to reap what we sow,” he said.
“There is not one nation on this earth that has been permanent, no matter how powerful that nation has been. Every civilization that you read about in history has a dawn, a zenith and a fall, because there is no permanence to anything that is corrupt and unjust.”
“There is a higher law, and that’s the law that Rev. Pinkney was talking about. That higher law that is represented by this universe in which we live, set up by a God that loves justice. So whenever we in our unfair dealings (in which) our evil outweighs our good, there is a law in this universe that operations against individuals, tribes, racists, nations when our evil outweighs our good the law that governs the universe begins to operate against us.”
Benton Harbor, and the beachfront city of St. Joseph are referred to by locals as “Twin Cities” however, demographic pictures paint two starkly different portraits. According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Benton Harbor is 92 percent Black with a median annual household income of $17,471. St. Joseph is 90 percent White with an annual household income of $37,032.
Read more coverage of the case in this week’s edition of The Final Call.
(L-R) NBPP Nat'l Minister of Culture Zayid Muhammad, Olinka Green holding the mic and seated is Krystal Muhammad, another hard driving sister who leads the Houston chapter of the NBPP.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Her Name is Olinka Green, and she is a leader in the Dallas, TX chapter of the New Black Panther Party. She is an organizer, communications officer, field marshal, fundraiser, and a straight up sister soldier! This revolutionary sister is someone you should know. If something goes down, you want her on your side. And if something has gone down, she is down to ride! She is a representative of the emerging new leadership of the Black liberation struggle and I spoke with her May 24 at the 2009 Black Power Conference.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: In your view, looking back on history, what has been learned from the Black Power Movement of the ‘60s that is now being re-visited and with this Black Power Movement be different?
Olinka Green: I think what is going to be different is that we have a blueprint for what to do and what not to do. The situations that those brothers and sisters were dealing with back then were different from what we are dealing with. They did not have the technology, they did not have Twitter or FaceBook, or e-mail, blogs and cable television. If something is happening in our community, we now have the ability to shoot it across the wire. Back then if something happened to Huey (Newton) in Oakland, it didn’t get to other places until later on. So technology is totally different.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: I see…
Olinka Green: Police brutality has not changed, but we are doing something that our brothers and sisters did not have the technology to do. Another thing that we have that they did not have, we have strong Black bold lawyers like Atty. Malik Zulu Shabazz, who is not only articulate but he will tear them a new one. We had people like Thurgood Marshall, he was good but he wasn’t a warrior. We have more resources, we have more educated Black people. We just have the whole gambit.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: Go further into that.