Remember the Time

Written By: Raphael Baker

I’m sure each of you remembers where you were on June 25, 2009. I was shopping with friends in the Little Five Points section of Atlanta when I received a disturbing message on Twitter. Someone stated that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital because of a heart attack. They said he wasn’t breathing. Since I am a skeptic, I immediately dismissed the message as idle gossip. Within minutes, my phone began receiving message after message stating that the King of Pop had died. I still didn’t believe it because I hadn’t heard it from a credible source. TMZ was one of the first to report it, but given their shady track record, I didn’t feel they could be trusted.

When we got in the car, the radio confirmed it. Michael Joseph Jackson was confirmed dead at 2:45 p.m. PT at the UCLA Medical Center. We all sat in the car for a moment, each visibly stunned. Michael Jackson was really dead.

While many have come out from under their rocks to criticize MJ and capitalize on his death, I choose to celebrate his life. Since Michael was performing long before I was born, my first memory of him was his video for “Thriller”. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was only seven and the video was spooky, yet entertaining. My little brother and I tried to mimic the dance moves. I begged my mother for a red, zippered jacket and a sequined glove, but my mom wasn’t having it. We just settled for some mini-buttons with Michael Jackson’s face on them and some stickers to put on our composition books.

My next two memories were of “Billy Jean” and “Beat It”. No one in my class understood what the real words were, but we made up our own. “Billy Jean ah not my lover. Ah. She’s just a girl. Dee Dee I am Duwan, but the kid is not my son.” Everyone was running around rocking jheri curls and high-waters with white socks.

“We Are the World” came out the year that I got my first tape recorder for Christmas. My brother, my two friends from across the street and I recorded ourselves singing that song. We sang that song like we were recording in the studio. I still have that tape.

Many years later, I remember impatiently waiting for the “Remember the Time” video to premiere. Michael’s videos were like movies. When I finally saw the video, I was awestruck. The video portrayed black people as royals. Eddie Murphy was the Pharaoh that lost the beautiful Iman to Michael. The video was hot. The dancing was incredible. The song was amazing.

Years later, my school held an annual event called Friendship Day. Each class put on a performance and competed to see who the best was. My class did a skit and sang, “Heal the World.” We had cheesy sweatshirts made up to coincide with the song that had hands reaching up to a globe. One of my classmates even performed as Michael Jackson. By the end of our performance, we received a standing ovation. We took first place.

Amid much controversy and rumors, Michael and Janet released “Scream”. Ciara and Chris Brown pale in comparison to this dynamic duo. In this futuristic video, the brother and sister team gave critics and naysayers their butts to kiss.

I was in college when I heard “You Are Not Alone”. That song made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and really hit home since sometimes I really did feel alone in college. Also, while in college, Michael Jackson signed the group Brownstone, a trio whose voices were as powerful as a choir. “If you love me- Say it!”

I cannot remember a time when Michael Jackson’s music has not been part of the soundtrack of my life. He left us with songs that made us want to dance, cry, laugh and think. He was an advocate for equality, social justice and assisting the downtrodden. Before you judge him, take the time to know him. Although he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Successful Concert Series, Biggest Selling Album of All Time, 80’s Most #1 Hits, Most Grammy Awards, Greatest Audience, to name a few, he is more remembered for his philanthropy. Even in his death, he left millions of his money to various charities.

Michael Jackson is truly immortal, because his music and his legacy will remain a part of this world forever. People can say what they want about him, but he was loved internationally. Rest in Peace, Michael Joseph Jackson. You are truly Bad.

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