An excerpt from‘s piece on the Daily Beast:
“I can’t help but think about Thriller’s massive socio-cultural impact. Rev. Al Sharpton referred to Michael as a pre-Obama Obama-esque figure in that he’s a black man who knows how to make millions of blacks and whites fall in love with him. He’s an integrationist, a racial unifier. He made two pop songs as overtly about race as anyone’s ever made: Ebony and Ivory with Paul McCartney and Black or White. He was a Motown guy, after all. But he left Berry Gordy’s house and went to CBS/Epic, a big-time label, to forge an adult solo career. CBS pushed his record as hard as they did their huge white stars and Off the Wall was a huge crossover success: young Michael was established as not an artist for black fans but an artist for everyone at a time when that was rare. Four years later, when Thriller came out it broke the radio color barrier: black and white stations played its singles until MTV, which had not previously played videos by black artists, had to play Michael. For a while they played Thriller every hour at the top of the hour. Back then he was MTV’s Jackie Robinson.”
Want to understand Michael’s power? He died and MTV started playing videos again.