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REMEMBER THE CROTCH GRAB?

It was 1978, I was 10 years old and I wanted to marry Michael. I remember one time, my mother making my little sister and I leave the room when Michael was dancing. She thought his signature move (the crotch grab) and how he wiggled his hiney in and out was not appropriate for her little girls. It didn't matter, we saw everything at our friends homes. We were allowed to listen to his music, just not watch him dance. My mom and I laugh about it now. I have been crying every day. The world lost a valuable piece of our happiness. It is sad to think that we will never see him perform again. Thank God Michael left us his music. I will remember Michael as a loving, giving sensitive man. May God bless and watch over the Jackson Family and Michael's children. May God give them Strength and Guidance during this difficult time. I love and miss you Michael. Gloria Streit from Cincinnati. P.S.: My daughter is 2 and a half and she knows the words to ABC. She loves singing and dancing to his upbeat music. She spins around on 1 foot like Michael- she is always imitating him. IT is soooo funny. — Gloria Streit.

I PLAYED FOR HIM:

Right before Thriller was released, Michael came into the club where I was playing (the Rose Tattoo) and listened to me play and my partner sing for a few hours. During our break, he went to the piano onstage and debuted some of the tunes from Thriller for the small audience. I didn't have a mic (I play, but barely sing.) So you couldn't hear Michael's vocals much, but
he was a good keyboard player. I was surprised about that. I was half of a duo in LA. I accompanied a fine singer named Beverly Wright (sister of Gary Wright, who wrote and recorded Dream Weaver.) I didn't ask him for an autograph or anything…just left him
alone. It's something I'll always remember. Anyone could buy a ticket to a Michael Jackson concert if they had the money.
But not everyone was lucky enough to get to entertain him — bizzvanwa.

A NEW SPIRIT:

This slowly washes over me. I'm a white woman in my late 50's. . . I think TRUE genius and talent are easy to recognize. What I saw in Jackson was an unprecendented gift and vulnerability . . . a "new" spirit. I believe like so many "gifted" humans born into this world of "grinding down" - he shone bright and burned out. I believe he was a "new soul" with transforming gifts to attract humankind. Unfortunately the "world" preys on the VERY special because their light shines so strong. I believe he was a victim and people "USED" him because of all he offered. He shone too brightly which affected his ability to stay long in this world. He gave so much to so many His gifts were phenomenal and I for one, hope his children are able to thrive and be truly proud of their father. Maybe someday he will be known not for human frailities but for his strong spirit, good heart and vulnerability which contributed so much to all of us that witnessed what is possible.

God Bless. — Karen Wendt

ENSLAVED BY STARDOM:

Michael Jackson’s loss is felt not so much as a fan but as a human being, a black man acknowledging another black man who never got to "be," or live without the ubiquitous camera, off stage. With all of the millions of albums be sold, and corners of the earth he touched, I wonder if he had it to do all over again, what he would choose to do? It is clear that stardom was not of his choosing. With all of his wealth and fame, he seemed about as limited in terms of freedom—psychological and physical—as our brothers and sisters who lived through bondage a few generations earlier. Their master was known, his were many: record companies, money grubbers, the double-edged knife of beauty politics, aloneness, so much to overcome or “Beat It,” as the song goes. — Abdul Ali

FIRST CRUSH:

A HOMETOWN HERO:

Let me first begin by saying that I have very few happy, positive memories of my childhood with my family. But both of my parents were born in Gary, Indiana and grew up knowing of the Jackson family, listening to the Jackson 5, and passing on, with pride, their appreciation for the locals gone national.

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In 1983 we moved from Indiana to Maryland and one of the first things we did to christen the new home was put on the Thriller LP. For the length of the album we laughed and danced and enjoyed ourselves in one of the most carefree moments we ever shared as an entire family. MJ provided a rare moment of family cohesiveness and for that I will be forever thankful — Michael Mattix

ROYALTY:

Whenever Billie Jean was played at Studio 54 — yes I was of one the lucky ones — the crowd on the dance floor, already filled with boisterous dancing, would immediately double, as no one could resist the teasing opening and build-up of Michael’s beautiful voice. It was glorious a time and we were all rooting for him. He truly was royalty in our time. — Hector Erazo in the Bay Area

A SOUL MATE:

"I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on The Wiz and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the 80's. To this day, the music we created together on "Off The Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all…talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him." — Quincy Jones (TMZ.com)

A CULTURE ICON:

"No controversy will erase the historic impact. He learned how to create even beyond his own shortcomings. Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama." — Al Sharpton

AN IDOL:

"I was two years-old when Thriller dropped. I have been shown photos (and doctor bills) of me twisting my knee when I was three years old in hopes to get that dance move right. And I recall a “big kid” showing me how to moonwalk in kindergarden.

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We never gave into idolizing him as the King of Pop. We never engaged in heated arguments with anyone about his child molestation allegations for which he was acquitted. He was one of the most talented artists and his music helped my father and I bond. Now as an adult, I still consider Michael Jackson’s music is still a part of our relationship.

A HEARTTHROB:

"As a little girl, my cousins and I lip synced, kicked, and spun, trying to follow the studded bell bottoms of Michael and his brothers. In secret I wrote him letters by the dozens and sat in my room, daydreaming of our fairytale love story.

Just call my name and I’ll be there

Later, I ‘shook my body to the ground’ and grew into adolescence as Michael, the wide eyed cutie with the magical voice, eased out of the Afro on his way to the jheri curl and a solo career." — Stephane Dunn

A BRAND:

"Jackson almost singlehandedly made MTV a national fixture. In the mid-1980's, young people all over the world adopted his jacketed look and pipestem jeans. "The [King] of Pop" was innovative, seemingly sensitive, and had a keen eye for often unlikely collaborations (such as w/ Paul McCartney). He and the music video grew in tandem. He also fought for Little Richard to be paid fairly for his songwriting royalties, and was a major figure in U.S.A. For Africa ("We Are The World"), long before Madonna and Brangelina's adoptions and Bono's charity work." — Bijan C. Bayne

A HERO:

I can’t stop crying over the sad news. I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever! My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless.” — Madonna (People.com)

A WORLD FIGURE:

"It was 1989. I was traveling through Cairo during a college semester abroad. I had been mugged near the Pyramids and was having a generally rotten day. From a distance, someone called out, "Hey, soul sister!" I cringed reflexively, prepared to stare down the cat-caller. It was a smiling 12 year-old boy named Mohammed, who grabbed my hand and invited me to his home. I should not have gone. I had just been robbed. But he was a sweet child, and he grinned as he told me he had a horse that he wanted me to see. His home was as modest as they come, a dusty shack with an enclosure on the side that held a dusty brown horse. Mohammed's boyish grin brightened to a full beam. "Michael Jackson!" he exclaimed proudly.

Everything bad that had happened that day receded. I saw no evidence that Mohammed owned anything on which play music, or any posters, or any fan buttons or t-shirts. But that horse was clearly the center of his world, and he wanted desperately for me to know that. Michael Jackson was, quite simply, the most famous black person in the world. And his impact prompted a poor Egyptian boy to take a "soul sister's" hand and make her day. It remains one of my favorite memories of Cairo. One of my favorite travel memories, period." — Lynette Clemetson

"He's been the soundtrack of my life… As a black man I feel the mess of multimedia coverage of the last 15-20 years is just a bunch of crap to me. Yesterday was a sad and a bad day for me, because I think Michael Jackson died of a broken heart and a broken soul. The same fame that he thrived on that these boardrooms create, I think he felt chained to it. I think it was painful. The thing is the hypocrisy of this country. Now fame means the worst side of you will get the most coverage. It’s kind of haunting that these record companies wouldn’t give him the light of the day or these radio stations wouldn’t give him the light of the day over the last couple years, but now that he died everybody’s on his jock, so to speak. It makes me angry because in the end, no matter how much he messed with himself or his appearance, which to me didn’t mean anything to anybody when it came down to him wanting to entertain and just make people have a good time, I just thought all of that was irrelevant. And now you see all these areas of multimedia praising him and jocking him. But once again, as a black man dead, it’s just convenient for American media, and much of the people living in it. I feel kind of crappy for the hypocrisy of this country and its coverage." — Chuck D. (theTakeaway.org)

A CHAMELEON:

"I think that this is a country of self-reinvention. But you always pay a price, no matter what you do. We’re used to reinvention of the pauper becoming a millionaire, the fat girl becoming thing, people changing their nose and their accent, but Michael, I think what strikes me is that I don’t know what Michael would have been if he could have been anything…. He was literally not comfortable in his skin. He couldn’t seem to find that space where he was who he was." — Farai Chideya (theTakeaway.org)

A SPIRITUAL LEADER:

The gift that Michael Jackson gave to us is, in many ways, a religious one, for religion functions to bind us to one another and God. […]

As we give gratitude for this life and what it represented, let us remember that a lovely man with deep emotional sensitivity made a spirit-filled effort in the realm of American popular song and dance. This transcendent figure—in his own way—wound up attempting to change the world; he brought a song of love and helped us find greater joy. He helped bind us more closely to ourselves, to one another and to that which is greater than us all. He transcended this planet after a half century.

Until today, I have never known a world without Michael Joseph Jackson physically alive in it; and right now it feels like a lesser place without him. —
Andre C. Willis

Share your Michael Jackson memories and photos. Email Rooteditorial@gmail.com

Read more King of Pop coverage on Newsweek.com .