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by Shaquila Mathews

The “King of Pop,” a title given to him by his peers, says something about the man, Michael Joseph Jackson, and his character. Jackson’s impact on generations musically will go down in history. Not only did he change the game musically, he showed that artists have other concerns and passions. His philanthropic achievements run almost parallel to his musical accomplishments.

Jackson, who died suddenly and tragically a year ago at age 50 of cardiac arrest, was aware politically and always kept his pulse on the world that he loved so much.

When you talk about the King of Pop, you can’t stop at his musical contributions. Although music was not the only way Jackson affected past generations, and will affect generations to come, his legacy will live on and continue to exemplify the true nature of an artist. That is, one who “creates.” Many would say Jackson created, whether in fashion, musically or through his generous giving and his love for people. He will be greatly missed by his fans and some would say “gone too soon,” the title of a song written by the former Indiana native.

In his latter years, Jackson went through immense criticism and personal attack, sometimes from some of the same people who praised him. Still, because of the humility that he so often showed publicly toward others, he was unselfishly preparing to go on one final tour. “This is going to be my last time,” Jackson told an audience, as he geared up for a grueling 50-city tour in Europe. He wanted to give his worldwide audience, who now can “only imagine” what that would have been like, one last show.

On June 25, the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death, music lovers around the world reflected on the life and legacy of the pop king. They considered where they were—and who they were—when they first heard Jackson’s classics, such as “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and The Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Since his death, his estate has earned $1 billion.

According to the Associated Press, in Japan, hundreds of people lit candles in Jackson’s memory. In the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, thousands filed silently through the gates of Forest Lawn Cemetery, where Jackson’s body is entombed in the mausoleum. Some of them released white doves while others wept softly.

Several of Jackson’s relatives visited the mausoleum, which was off limits to the public. Brother Tito shook hands with fans as he arrived, and brother Jermaine rolled down a window and waved as the family left in a fleet of luxury vehicles.

In Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Ind., Jackson’s mother, Katherine, unveiled a monument in the front yard of the modest home where her children grew up.

Across the country in New York City’s Harlem, pictures of Jackson hung outside the fabled Apollo Theater, where the entertainer and his brothers rocketed to fame as the Jackson 5, winning amateur night in the late 1960s. A sidewalk plaque honored the singer alongside such other Apollo legends as James Brown and Smokey Robinson.

Jackson, who was a star as a child, was also a brother, son, uncle, cousin and father. The vast majority of his fans would agree that his gifts were gone too soon, but memories of them will continue.

(Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder.)

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