Michael’s speech against racism!
Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York
… I remember a long time ago in Indiana, [when I was] like 6 or 7 years old, and I had a dream that I wanted to be a performer, you know, an entertainer and whenever I’d be asleep at night, and my mother would wake me up and say, ‘Michael, Michael, James Brown is on TV!’ I would jump out of bed and I’d just stare at the screen and I’d do every twist, every turn, every bump, every grind.
And it was Jackie Wilson; the list goes on and on you know, just phenomenal, unlimited, great talent.
It’s very sad to see that these artists really are penniless because they created so much joy for the world. And the system, beginning with the record companies, totally took advantage of them. And it’s not like they always say: ‘they built a big house,’ ‘they spent a lot of money,’ ‘they bought a lot of cars’ — that’s stupid, it’s an excuse. That’s nothing compared to what artists make.
And 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. And they manipulate our history books. Our history books are not true, it’s a lie. The history books are lies, you need to know that. You must know that.
All the forms of popular music from Jazz, to Hip Hop to Bebop to Soul, you know, to talking about the different dances from the Cake Walk to the Jitter Bug to the Charleston to Break Dancing — all these are forms of Black dancing!
What’s more important than giving people a sense of escapism, and escapism meaning entertainment? What would we be like without a song? What would we be like without a dance, joy and laughter and music?
These things are very important, but if we go to the bookstore down on the corner, you won’t see one Black person on the cover. You’ll see Elvis Presley. You’ll see the Rolling Stones. But where are the real pioneers who started it?
Otis Blackwell was a prolific phenomenal writer. He wrote some of the greatest Elvis Presley songs ever. And this was a Black man. He died penniless and no one knows about this man, that is, they didn’t write one book about him that I know of because I’ve searched all over the world. And I met his daughter today, and I was honored. To me it was on the same level of meeting the Queen of England when I met her.
But I’m here to speak for all injustice. You gotta remember something, the minute I started breaking the all-time record in record sales — I broke Elvis’s records, I broke the Beatles’ records — the minute [they] became the all-time best selling albums in the history of the Guinness Book of World Records, overnight they called me a freak, they called me a homosexual, they called me a child molester, they said I tried to bleach my skin. They did everything to try to turn the public against me. This is all a complete conspiracy, you have to know that.
I know my race. I just look in the mirror, I know I’m Black.
It’s time for a change. And let’s not leave this building and forget what has been said. Put it into your heart, put it into your subconscious mind, and let’s do something about it. We have to! It’s been a long, long time coming and a change has got to come. So let’s hold our torches high and get the respect that we deserve. I love you. I love you.
Please don’t put this in your heart today and forget it tomorrow. We will have not accomplished our purpose if that happens. This has got to stop! It’s got to stop, that’s why I’m here with the best to make sure that it stops. I love you folks. And remember: we’re all brothers and sisters, no matter what color we are.