Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton told Michael Jackson's children "there weren't nothing strange about your daddy," in a fiery speech at the King of Pop's Los Angeles memorial service.
"It was strange what your daddy had to deal with but he dealt with it," Sharpton said, his voice rising in the rich cadence of a sermon.
Sharpton castigated those who "like to dig around" and said Jackson's journey to superstardom was more significant that his occasional stumbles and "mess."
"Michael rose to the top. He outsang and outdanced and outperformed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down, he got back up. Every time you counted him out, he came back in. Michael never stopped."
Sharpton praised Jackson's message of love, his talent and his work breaking down "the color curtain" and eradicating barriers.
"It was Michael Jackson that brought blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos together," Sharpton said Tuesday.
"He created a comfort level where people that felt they were separate became interconnected with his music," Sharpton said.
"Those young kids grew up from being teenage fans of Michael's to being 40 years old and being comfortable to vote for a president of color to be the president of the United States of America.
"Michael did that. Michael made us love each other. Michael taught us to stand with each other."
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