Michael Jackson will always be remembered as the King of Pop. No one can take that title away from him. His Thriller album sold 100 million copies, more than anyone else including the Beatles or Elvis. Yet, he also leaves a musical legacy of social activism. His music and legacy was also about social change and justice.
Michael broke the color barrier at MTV. He became the first black artist to showcase their talent on MTV with Billie Jean and Beat It. He paved the way for many others. Then who could forget the Jackson 5 cartoon show on Saturday mornings. In the ’70’s there were few black tv shows or blacks appearing on TV.
In 1985 he brought together artists and musicians from all over to perform a benefit for the famine victims in Ethiopia. His lyrics on We Are the World symbolize his spirit of social change. He wrote: “We are the world, We are the children; We are the ones who make a brighter today, so let’s start giving. There comes a time when we need a certain call; When the world must come together as one. There are people dying and it’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all”.
His lyrics spoke of race relations. Remember “Ebony and Ivory” living in perfect harmony. That’s how he wanted the world to be. On “Black and White” he penned in 1991..If you’re thinking of being my brother, it don’t matter if you’re black or white.
My favorite was “Looking at the Man in the Mirror”. ” I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their need. I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his way. If you wanna make the world a better place, then take a look at yourself and make a change. You gotta get it right while you got time.”
And in the words of Michael Jackson, it is up to us to make the world a better place. He had it right, change begins within each of us. Let’s celebrate his life and legacy by making a change in the world.