I got a call yesterday morning from a radio show producer asking if I thought it hypocritical for African-Americans to celebrate Michael Jackson as a black man, since it seems to many people that he spent most of his life turning himself white.
She stopped short of calling Jackson a race traitor, but the implication was clear. And it did get me thinking about the strange role that race played - and didn't play - in Jackson’s life and career.
Race is never simple, especially when it comes to a complex artist like Michael Jackson.
Jackson often expressed in his music a hopefulness - “It don’t matter if you’re black or white” - about race relations that many found naïve. And yet had no qualms about using anti-Semitic lyrics in his song “They Don’t Care About Us” - "Jew me/Sue me/Everybody do me/Kick me/Kike me."
We will never know what drove Jackson to alter his appearance so drastically during his adult life. Jackson said that he suffered from vitiligo, a condition that eliminates pigment from skin leaving white blotches. His dermatologist and others close to Jackson, including Deepak Chopra, have also said he had vitiligo, even though many people have expressed doubt about it, fueling debate over whether Jackson was "trying to be white."
Producer Chuck Hadad sits with Rev. Al Sharpton in the office of Sharpton's Harlem headquarters.
Editor's Note: AC360° Producer Chuck Hadad tagged along with Rev. Al Sharpton as he planned and attended today's memorial honoring Michael Jackson at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Here are some snapshots from the day.
Right now, I'm riding shotgun with the ringmaster of the Michael Jackson media circus... Actually, to be more exact, I'm riding in the backseat.
We're on our way to the Apollo Theater in Reverend Al Sharpton's SUV and "the Rev," as his staff and others call him, has allowed 360° virtually unfettered access to every behind the scenes meeting, every phone call, every Facebook message, every text message and even every tweet.
With a story as fast-moving as the mystery and drama over Michael Jackson's death, managing this circus is a full-time job.
We started with Sharpton at dawn after he'd landed on a red-eye flight back from LA. He was on his way to do a segment with "Good Morning America," the first of 7 interviews before noon.
Sharpton has fielded calls from Jackson family attorney L. Londell McMillan on how to handle media questions about the custody of Jackson's kids and texted Spike Lee about today's tribute at the Apollo Theater.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/30/michael.jackson.drugs/art.cherilyn.lee.jpg caption="Cherilyn Lee is a holisitic health practitioner and has been in healthcare for 23 years, her Web site states."]
Campbell: we have some breaking news to share with you now on Michael Jackson’s medical condition on the days before he died. A nurse practitioner whose specialty includes nutritional counseling says that Jackson suffered from insomnia and he had begged her to inject him with a powerful sedative. That nurse is Cherilyn Lee and joining us right now by telephone. Welcome to you.
Cherilyn Lee: oh, thank you very much, thank you.
Campbell: appreciate you talking to us about this. I want you to start by telling us about this phone call that you got. This was two Sundays ago, June 21st, from a member of Michael Jackson’s staff. What happened?
Tonight on 360°, Michael Jackson's former nurse is speaking out. Hear why she says Jackson "desperately" wanted a heavy sedative to help him sleep. She says just four days before Jackson died, one of his aides placed a desperate call to her, indicating Jackson was extremely ill. She's sharing her side of the story tonight on 360°.
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The Chicago Sun-Times
Dr. Conrad Murray might as well find himself a new gig. Murray is the cardiologist who was with Michael Jackson when he died.
He is now being slammed across the Web as being culpable for the shocking death that stopped the world.
My daughter and I sat up late into the night watching the Jackson coverage.
It was our way of mourning an entertainer whose music is the soundtrack for our memories.
Having a heart attack or cardiac arrest at age 50 isn't unheard of.
But Michael Jackson? Who thought he would go out that way?
"It ain't right," my daughter said more than once.
Later that weekend, my eldest son summed up my feelings.
"It's like a piece of me died," he said.
So far, the official word is that Jackson had taken "some unspecified medication," which is about as vague as it gets.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/30/michael.jackson/art.last.rehearsal.02.gi.jpg caption= "Michael Jackson, shown at a rehearsal June 23 - one of his last - was to perform in London in July."]
We have breaking news on the death of Michael Jackson. A nurse who was treating him is speaking out tonight. She tells the Associated Press that Jackson desperately wanted a powerful IV anesthesia drugs months ago. The drug is Diprivan. She says she rejected his demands. Then just days before Jackson died she said she got a frantic call from Jackson's staff and she feared somehow Jackson got Diprivan or another drug to help him sleep. We'll have all the details.
There's also word tonight that Jackson's 2002 will has surfaced. Keep in mind others may exist. We'll talk about the legal challenges tied to Jackson's death with the family's team of lawyers.
And in other news, there's are new confessions from South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He tells the AP he "crossed the line" with a handful of women other than his Argentine mistress over the years, but never had sex with them. He also describes his mistress as his soul mate. Though, he says he's trying to fall back in love with wife.
And, U.S. troops moving out of Iraqi cities ahead of a midnight deadline. Today for the first time in six year Iraqis, not Americans, were in charge of securing in their streets. It's all part of an agreement signed last year by former President George Bush calling for all U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. We'll look over the costs and gains of the war in Iraq.
Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
The Reverend Al Sharpton (L) and movie director Spike Lee (R) dance on stage during a public memorial for pop star Michael Jackson on June 30, 2009 at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York. (Photo credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Michael Jackson was an exceptional Human Being. He was gifted, deeply compassionate and brought joy to the lives of so many. He loved his family dearly, and above all, his beautiful children.
In addition to being my employer over the past 17 years and entrusting the care of his beloved children to me, he was my dear friend. While our friendship had challenges, as do all friendships, he was loyal to the end. I cherish and honor his memory.
I am shocked, hurt and deeply saddened by recent statements the press has attributed to me, in particular, the outrageous and patently false claim that I “routinely pumped his stomach after he had ingested a dangerous combination of drugs”. I don’t even know how to pump a stomach!! In addition, I have never spoken to the Times Online, the original source of the story that has now been picked up worldwide. The statements attributed to me confirm the worst in human tendencies to sensationalize tragedy and smear reputations for profit.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/30/sanford/art.sanford.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Mark Sanford has said it's better for him to keep his governorship to 'learn lessons.'"]
Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has admitted he “crossed lines” with a handful of other women..but "never crossed the ultimate line," which I assume is code for having a Monica Lewinsky-style affair.
Sanford also now admitting to seeing his mistress more than the three times he copped to initially, including at least one tete-a-tete in New York. Apparently this is going to be one of those “evolving” stories.
Anyway, the latest “evolvement” in the Sanford story has prompted the South Carolina Attorney general who really didn’t seem to want to get into this now wants an investigation of any Sanford trip during which he saw his mistress.
Oh—and this: Sanford called his mistress his soul mate but says he is trying to fall back in love with his wife. Do not get me started on this one. All from an AP interview.
Under a separate circus tent, Supreme court of Minnesota has turned back Republican Senator Norm Coleman’s appeal of the counting process for LAST NOVEMBER’S election.
The Republican governor there had said he would sign certification if the State Supreme court directed him to . And now this just in–after fighting for the governorship all these months, Sen. Coleman has conceded.
Bottom line, the Senate is on the cusp of getting its 60th vote - 58 Democrats and 2 independents - who generally vote with the Democrats.
And... the Senate is about to get an actual comedian, as opposed to all the accidental ones up there.