On July 6, 2002, Michael Jackson spoke about racism within the entertainment industry to a crowd gathered at the headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem, New York.
Thank you, Al Sharpton. Thank you, Johnnie Cochran. Thank you for inviting me here and all the lovely people here tonight.
I remember a long time ago, in Indiana—of course I was like six or seven years old—I had a dream that I wanted to be a performer, an entertainer.
Whenever I’d couldn’t get to to sleep at night, or my mother would wake me up and shout, “Michael, Michael, James Brown is on 2! Turn it on!”
I’d jump out of bed and I’d just stare at the screen and he’d twist and he’d turn and he’d bump and he’d grind. And then there was Jackie Wilson. He’d just go on and on, just phenomenal, unlimited, great talent. It’s very sad to see that these artists really are penniless. They created so much joy for the world, and the system, meaning the record companies, totally took advantage of them.
And it’s not like they always say, you know, “They built a big house, they spent a lot of money, they bought a lot of cars.” That’s stupid. That’s just an excuse. That’s nothing compared to what artists make. I just need you to know that this is very important, what we’re fighting for. Because I’m tired—I’m really, REALLY tired of the manipulation, I’m tired of how the press is manipulating everything that’s been happening in this situation. They do not tell the truth! They’re liars!