Magical. Have you ever received a blessing, an anointing from someone on the other side?
Has an angel from heaven put you on the guest list for the celebration of a lifetime?
Michael Jackson hooked about 600 of us up at The Apollo Theatre on Tuesday June 30, 2009. I was one of the 600 people in the auditorium to witness Al Sharpton’s powerful and triumphant eulogy to Michael—giving Michael the credit and praise he deserves for monumental milestones from breaking through the color barrier at MTV to being the greatest selling recording artist of all time.
The only reason I was in the house was because of Michael Jackson. I wasn’t even on the official Apollo guest list. Beginning at 2 p.m., they were letting lovers of Michael Jackson in the Apollo–600 at a time—to dance and shout to his music, being pumped in from a DJ spinning on a turntable center stage. Images of Michael were rotating on a big video screen, suspended on stage. The line outside the theatre had grown to thousands across several Harlem blocks. It was 4 o’clock that afternoon. My work was done for the day and my butt was thinking about going to The Apollo. A friend had already texted me earlier and said, “Girl, people been waiting outside for 12 hours. It’s supposed to rain. I think I’m gonna pass, we’ll never get in. Take some pics.” I called the one hook-up at The Apollo I had. He told me, “Mable, why are you calling me now? You should’ve called me yesterday. We submitted the guest list last night” I replied, “I just found out about this yesterday. I didn’t know you all had a guest list.” He stated very firmly, “Call me when you get there. There are no guarantees. At this point, situation is crazy. I’m very busy. Good luck…click”
So, I collect myself and still decide to go. I get off the train at 125th Street and I’m headed west. Numerous vendors have capitalized on this money-making opportunity and Michael Jackson merchandise from buttons to T-shirts to compilation cds to flags is being sold all the way up and down 125th Street. There are even a group of people who have dusted off their Michael Jackson dolls (mind you—they are not in a box) and are trying to get $80 a piece for them. I’m seeing throngs of people up ahead who have been waiting for hours in a line that is not moving. I think to myself, “I’ll never get in, but I’m here.”
My friend Stephanie and I head as close as we can get to the theatre only to be confronted by police barricades. We lie and say we’re on the guest list. The police officer curtly tells us to call our contact at the theatre. He says the only way you’re getting in is if this person comes and gets you. I make a call on my cell and get him on the phone “We’re standing in front of Jimmy Jazz…Can you come and get us?” To my surprise, I’m told, “Meet me at 127th and 8th, behind the theatre. Make it quick ‘cause I don’t have much time and someone’s on the other line, click” Stephanie and I rush past a whole lotta people, we’re travelling two long city blocks on 125th street, behind a corner and another block. I’m moving as fast as I can in heels.
It’s cloudy. I take a break and buy an umbrella. We keep moving. We get backstage and my contact is nowhere to be found. I’m told to wait again in a line that has formed backstage. I’m trying to show his business card. A woman comes out and asks me, “What’s your name?” I reply, “Mable and this is my friend Stephanie” To my shock and amazement she tells me, “I’ve been looking for you. Come inside” We’re escorted in and…
Michael Jackson’s music is blasting. Everyone’s dancing. The DJ is on stage MC’ing and getting the audience hyped up about Michael Jackson. His skin is just glistening; (Remember the Chris Rock special when he said Jermaine Jackson, the official Jackson family spokesperson’s skin was just glistening? The DJ was sweatin’ big time). The theatre is hot. It’s 4:49 PM
We’re standing side stage front and we quickly join in. You can feel the outpouring of love. We’re singing along—live and loud so Michael can hear us. It’s electrical. It’s cathartic. Folks from every nationality, young and old are there. The love for Michael is color blind and spreads across time. This is the moment that I’ve been craving. I can celebrate and scream. I can bond and connect with others who loved him just as much.
It’s 5:11 PM. Al Sharpton gets on-stage. The audience begins to quiet. He speaks and he is the reverend. We feel at ease. Michael is getting his moment without the media bludgeoning it and trying to diminish his legacy.
Check out my video link below and you’ll hear Rev. Sharpton’s speech. The video speaks for itself.
The mood is heavenly. We know Michael Jackson can hear and see us. We know he knows we love him. It begins to rain as Rev. Al is giving the eulogy. It’s a torrential downpour. The rain is symbolic. It’s a cleansing. All the negativity is being washed away. The tribute is truly a tribute and a celebration of Michael’s work and legacy. The air is fresh and clear. We have our moment of silence at 5:26 PM. We pray. We remember and we also know we will never, ever forget.