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The City of Soul Remembers The King of Pop

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It was hard to watch the memorial service for Michael Jackson at my work computer. Our monitors were acting less than acceptable and there  Michael Jacksonweren’t any speakers attached for sound. I decided to go out for lunch to The Wing Stop on Broad and Cecil B. Moore Avenue to see if they were playing the reception on their TV’s. The packed restaurant was dead silent with customers and employees, who watched as the world’s greatest entertainer was being immortalized in front of the entire world on national television.

I tried to crack a joke to the cashier in my attempt to get her attention. “You would’ve thought the president died from all of this media coverage.” She looked at me with a blank stare on her face for a split second and immediately turned toward the flat screen in the corner of the room. Without looking at me, she asked me what I would like to eat. I ordered a meal that usually costs about eight bucks and handed her a ten. Again, without looking at me, she took the ten and handed me back some change. For all she knew, I could’ve handed her a single dollar bill.

As I walked through the tables, I saw numerous men and women with tears running down their face as they watched the pop star Usher perform the song “Too Soon”, a song that Jackson performed. We watched as A-list celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifa, and Al Sharpton took the stage and told the world about their memories and respect for Jackson. Then came the part, where everyone who spoke at the ceremony got onto stage and sang “We Are the World” and “Heal the World,” both songs by Jackson about improving the human condition. A lady sitting at the table next to mine sprang up, broke out singing “Heal the World” and started to grab hands with everyone near her. Before I could get up, 90% of the restaurant was holding hands and singing along with the TV. The site of this rare happening in north Philly was proof that Jackson’s music was so powerful, that it was able to move complete strangers of different ages, races, and sexes to actually hold hands and unite in song. I remember thinking that I haven’t seen anything like this since Obama was elected President.

I’m as big a fan of Jackson as anyone else, but I felt that it was my time to leave the restaurant before strangers started to cry on my shoulder, which I’m sure is what happened. I was in route back to my office and walked by two girls in their early 20’s watching the coverage live on their laptop. On the screen was Jackson’s only daughter, Paris, giving her brief speech of how much she loved her late father. At that moment, Paris’ tears simultaneously came out as soon as the two girls’ watching her on their computer. The two girls wiped the tears from their faces and looked at each other and hugged, right before introducing themselves to each other. They were complete strangers yet connected by this event.

I was about to walk back into work when I noticed a gathering of people on the Temple campus, chanting, routing, and cheering to “Billie Jean”, one of Jackson’s biggest hits. As I walked to the center of the crowd, I saw three young men doing their best renditions of Jackson’s signature dance moves. While continuing to watch, I began laughing as they did moves like the leg kick and the world famous “Moon Walk”. It was astonishing how everywhere I sent people were remembering Jackson.

Even by the time I left work at five, the crowd had tripled in size and they didn’t have any intention on stopping. I guess it goes to show you how important the ‘King of Pop’ was to so many— not only in Philadelphia, but across the whole world.

As many know, Philly is known for its passion and its soulful character, so it’s no surprise to me that today, Philadelphians took the time out of their busy schedule to remember not only a legendary performer but a pop star whose legacy will stand the test of time.

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