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Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks on the death of Michael Jackson

June 26, 2009

"Michael Jackson, the consummate artist and creative entertainer whom I have known since he was a teenager, is dead.

How difficult it is to construct that sentence. We are out of our joy and he is out of his pain. Several generations have not lived a day without Michael Jackson in their lives.

I remember his performance, along with the Jackson Five, at the first Black Expo. I remember Suzanne de Passe taking the boys, as their chaperon, to Fred Segal to buy clothes. I observed him from the Regal Theater, to "expo", to We are the World, to Thriller, to Beat It-he was always there.

He was my special guest at my 66th birthday party. I was with him at Neverland through his darkest hours but, through it all, Michael was a survivor and a contributor to his art--a rare vintage. Now the King of Pop deserves his rest."

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity.