today in black history

February 20, 2024

Military leader Idi Amin overthrows the Obote government and becomes the president and ruler of Uganda on this date in 1971.

Michael’s Final Bow

POSTED: July 07, 2009, 12:00 am

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I have been told by friends who are in the ministry that one of the most difficult tasks they are called upon to perform is to deliver a eulogy at a funeral or memorial service. Aside from the obvious sadness associated with the occasion, the challenge of providing comfort to the friends and family of the deceased while doing honor to their loved one’s memory can be a tall task. A friend who is a minister once shared with me that no matter how much effort he put into a eulogy, he always was left saddened because he knew the emotional pain those who are left behind experience could not be healed by his words alone.

Those conversations have been on my mind these last couple of days as the world has mourned the passing of Michael Jackson. His death is truly a transcendent moment in popular culture and history. For those of who grew up in the sixties and seventies, watched the boys from Gary, Indiana gain fame, and ate cereal in front of the television watching the Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoon show, and danced endlessly to Michael’s nonstop smorgasbord of hit music, things will never quite be the same again. There is no eulogy that can be given, no words that can comfort the millions of people, young and old, of all races and nationalities, that identified with the music of the “gloved one,” and marveled at his movements on stage, that are often imitated but never duplicated.

There is no doubt that he was a complex individual. Born with enormous talent and a God given gift, his life was far from perfect and Lord knows none of us can truly appreciate the bubble in which he lived. Much has been made of his troubles over the last few days by some who seem intent on casting dispersions on his legacy. That is to be expected. However, I choose to remember the joy he exhibited on stage and the obvious sense of security he felt while performing. Brilliance is never understood by those of us who do not possess it. Michael Jackson was brilliant. So, while those of lesser skills and intellect try to analyze his life now that he has died, we need to acknowledge the fact that he redefined the term “entertainer” and took music to heights heretofore unknown and likely never to be reached again.

“Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly. I've got to be where my spirit can run free. Got to find my corner of the sky.”

Many tears have been shed since hearing the news that Michael Jackson had died. For many people, present company included, it is hard to fathom this human dynamo, this energy source stilled by death. It marks a point of no return in our own lives and conjures up feelings of loss when thinking about the march of time. Michael was our childhood and we have lost a childhood friend, no matter how famous or distant he was from the rest of us. All we have to do is close our eyes and hear “I Want You Back” or “The Love You Save” and we are kids again, in the security of childhood innocence and the hopefulness of a better tomorrow. I hear the music and I think about childhood friends and relatives who have passed away, and the wonderful memories of happy times when we had a collective pride in five Black boys from Indiana. In many ways, Michael and his brothers were a living testament of a period of time when we had claimed Black as beautiful and saw our community ascending.

The momentary sadness I too felt when I received the news of his death has now been eclipsed by the joy of remembering his music, its mark on events in my life, and recalling all of the good times I associate with his body of work. I feel fortunate to have been alive to witness Michael Jackson’s great talent. I regret that generations will not see him perform in person but, at least there is an archive of recorded music and video that will inspire and entertain new fans for years to come.

Today, Michael is taking his final bow. My thoughts are with the Jackson family because while we lost an entertainer, they have lost a son and brother, and father. As the final curtain comes down on his life at the Staples Center, we bid farewell to an icon and pray that he is finally at rest. No more demands. No more accusations. No more pressure to perform. Take your bow Michael. You have earned your rest. A greater stage awaits you.

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don't fit in anywhere I go?

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don't you see I want my life to be
Something more than long....

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won't rest until I know I'll have it all
So don't ask where I'm going
Just listen when I'm gone
And far away you'll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky


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