Jesse Jackson: The Future for Michael Jackson

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson's spiritual adviser and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, talks about the pop star's past and potential future.


This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

On today's roundtable, Michael Jackson found not guilty on all 10 counts, the Supreme Court rules on race and the death penalty, and a school system makes black history a graduation requirement.

But first, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson.

Reverend JESSE JACKSON (The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition): Well, I've known Michael since he was eight years old, when his family first came to me that many years ago, asking to perform at the Rainbow/PUSH expo, and they performed. They kind of walked onstage and when they finished, the Jackson Five were soaring into the air. So I've known him for all of these years, and when this crisis moment came upon him, he called and asked me to come out there and go to court with him and to have prayer with him and to help him, and I chose to do that.

CHIDEYA: How would you describe Michael Jackson? We've all seen his image on television. Very few people are as close to him as you are.

Rev. JACKSON: First of all, he is, you know, a very disciplined hard worker. You don't get to be the best entertainer in the whole world unless you have a superior work ethic. Second, his holdings of the Elvis catalog and The Beatles and the Sly and the Family stone and his own, nearly a billion dollars, you do not become that successful as an entertainer unless you also are astute and smart in business. And so while we see the kind of dancing, moonwalk and the stuff he does creatively, he is essentially very disciplined, in many ways a loner, a hard worker.

CHIDEYA: Now you've ministered to other high-profile individuals in times of crisis, including President Clinton. What are the special considerations and the pitfalls in these situations, where you're ministering to celebrities or public leaders?

Rev. JACKSON: Well, you realize that we all of sin and come short of the glory of God and we fall down sometime. But to know that even when you're down that nothing is too hard for God. Michael comes from a family that has--is deeply rooted and deeply devout in their religion, so he had something to call upon. There's a certain point where your money can't help you. I mean, Michael was caught between--the reason why I just began to cry yesterday, frankly, was the jud--the sheriff was over there showing off the jail cell he meant Michael to sleep in last night, the 10-by-10 jail cell, almost had an MJ above his jail cell. Would he be in solitary confinement? What penitentiary would he be in? They made these enormous plans to lock him up. He had the choice yesterday of going home or going to jail, so he hit that very crisis moment, and I felt the pain and the pressure because I'd been so close to him and for such a long time. And I hoped the jury would use a standard of reasonable doubt and not use a political standard and they did use that standard and therefore he was found to be not guilty on all 10 charges.

CHIDEYA: Well, finally, Michael Jackson has been in the news also for having some financial issues, some potential debt and for the complicated family life, and the questions of custody. Given all that's on his plate, how will you advise him to move forward from this point?

Rev. JACKSON: Well, number one, he will keep custody of his children and that's important to him, and he has a mother and father and family that surrounds him in ways that the media does not project. That part, I think, will work out. On his finances, Michael's assets are always two-thirds greater than his debt. There never should have been such a big claim in the media about his going broke. He was a bit cash-strapped because he had not been working. He had not been traveling. He now has gained a measure of financial stability and controls again. That, too, will work out. So all that's left for Michael to do now is get his body back in shape, because between the back in excruciating pain and the pressure of this, he was not eating as he should have eaten, so he lost all of this weight. So if he gets his body back in shape, his emotions are relieved now. He can do what he really wants to do which is to get back in the studio and create, write, produce, and of course keep building out his entertainment career.

CHIDEYA: The Reverend Jesse Jackson is president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson.

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