Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five represent yet another example of Black excellence emerging against the odds. Barry Gordy started Motown with nothing more than a dream, desire and hard work. Young Black entertainers came to him with the same and together with trust and committment in themselves and one another they were able to tear down the walls of racism that had divided the music industry with segregated audiences and the limiting of Black entertainers access to the marketplace. Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 were at the forefront of this sweeping change.
Twenty years ago in America every black girl wanted to marry Michael Jackson
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 11:30AM BST 26 Jun 2009
As a young black performer Micahel Jackson's songs communicated emotions far beyond the grasp of an adolescent boy and black America swooned.
When he burst on the scene in the 1970s at the heart of his family group the Jackson 5, he seemed like the boy who knew too much.
When the band first toured the Mid West it often opened for down-at-heel striptease acts on what was known as the "chitlin' circuit". The Jacksons eventually signed with the black record label Motown in 1968.
As a dancer and a performer, Jackson was an androgynous boy-man figure who broke down racial barriers becoming the first black performer on MTV. He turned the music video into an art form, giving modern pop music a huge space in which to flourish.
Jackson's signature ethereal dance move became known as the Moonwalk. His stage presence was extraordinary and he could create delightful confusion about race, gender and age.
Though derided by many for his high pitched tones and foppish style, Jackson's music and vocal range helped shape hip hop, pop and contemporary R&amp;amp;amp;B artists from Mariah Carey to Justin Timberlake.
With his signature single white glove and red leather military cut jackets Jackson also influenced the world of fashion.
When the album Thriller was released in 1982, it was played endlessly on MTV turning Jackson into a true crossover artist, straddling the world of black and white music in ways that millions could could relate to.
Thriller was his masterwork and it transformed mainstream pop. As the world's best selling album ever, it knocked down boundaries between black and white music and brought the sounds of the dance floor into millions of living rooms.
As one critic said: "Executives hummed it, the poor danced to it. Blacks enjoyed it, white kids from the suburbs loved it."
Jackson transcended boundaries not just in America, but across the world. He became the biggest star in the pop universe, developing new sounds with producer Quincy Jones based on funk, soul elements of jazz, disco and Beatles-style rock.
It was, music critic Ann Powers said, "a smooth mix that created new possibilities for crossover pop."
"The news of his death was like losing a long-lost lover, someone you remember differently, adored innocently."