Jun 23 2011

Dr. Patrick Treacy’s Speech at Gardner St. Elementary, June 22, 2011

Category: Friends,Justice,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 1:03 am

Yesterday, June 22, 2011, Dr. Patrick Treacy gave this profoundly moving speech at Gardner St. Elementary School which Michael once attended and which once again proudly displays his name on its auditorium.

The event at which this speech was made was a private function set up to honor Michael’s humanitarian legacy, and was done in association with the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait.

Principal Urbina and Gardner St. Students in front of Michael Jackson Auditorium

Principal Urbina and Gardner St. Students in front of Michael Jackson Auditorium

Dr. Treacy’s Speech:

Fifty three years ago, a young black boy was born in a small town in Indiana. This was a different time, a time when the African-American Civil Rights Movement tried to gain freedom from oppression by white Americans.

It was also a time when the next generation of post-war Americans were growing up, the sons of soldiers who had freed prisoners from the tyranny of prison camps like Auswitch and Buchenwald, a time when all of Europe was filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people.

As Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust said in a speech to an important gathering of White House dignitaries in 1999 ‘Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being’.

And gratitude is what we should now have today for that young American black boy. His name was Michael Jackson, someone I am privileged to call my friend, somebody who often stood alone to fend for the children in the world, for the destitute, for the victims of disease and injustice.

Michael was very troubled by the suffering he saw in the world and even more to the indifference to it. His first words to me when we met were

‘Thank you so much for helping the people of Africa’.

There were no airs and graces, no pomp and circumstance and his only concern was for the lives of other people who lived on a different continent than the one in which either of us were born.

I had been to Africa and seen the devastation of the plague of HIV at first hand and when we discussed it, there was tears in his eyes and he said we had to do something together for the people of Africa.

He planned to hold a great concert in Rwanda and we would fly there together in his private plane and then down to see his great friend, Nelson Mandela. Sadly, these events were not to happen and the world lost one of its great humanitarians.

In that speech, Elie Wiesel had also some words to say about indifference. He said ‘To be indifferent to the suffering in the world is what makes the human being inhuman’.

For the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbour is of no consequence. Their lives are meaningless as indifference reduces the other to an abstraction. Indifference always benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.

Michael Jackson felt that pain, not just for the hungry children, but for himself when the people of America remained indifferent to the injustice that was perpetrated upon him making him a virtual prisoner in his own land, causing him to flee to the Middle East and eventually find solitude in Ireland, my home.

What an irony that someone who cared so much about the rest of humanity was rejected by his own. It was a pain he felt deeply and one that on occasion he discussed with me, but mostly he did not want to talk about it and I never opened those painful memories …being like him, exiles beyond the norm.

Michael Jackson was never indifferent. He brought light where there was darkness, hope where there was despair; he never turned away from cruelty when he could give compassion.

We have just started a new century, a new millennium. The first ten years have been some of the most brutal the planet has ever encountered. The century started with terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. These actions dragged this great nation into conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have been wars in over twenty countries, which cast a dark shadow over humanity: So much violence, so much pain.

If there is one thing to do today, to preserve Michael Jackson’s memory — that is not be remain indifferent to the suffering we see all around us in the World.

There are times when I feel God has abandoned this world, the terrible earthquake in Haiti where bodies were cut from building by hacksaw, the funeral undertakers in Zambia where the coffin-makers work banging nails in wood late into the night, the streets of Northern Ireland where throats are cut for pronouncing a word on a beer bottle with the wrong accent.

I have lived in Baghdad, I have been a prisoner of Saddam Hussein, I carry the war wounds of Northern Ireland and I say to you here today that there is a God who looks down on all of this wrong and he brought us Michael Jackson to help to solve it.

Over seventy years ago a ship with a human cargo of one thousand Jews — was turned away from the port of St. Louis back to Nazi Germany. The ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back and the people left to the fate of the dictator.

This happened in America, a country with the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. It is happening again today, with the bombing and terrorization of innocent children on foreign shores. Don’t let it happen, stand up for the things Michael stood for, to wipe out injustice, to combat disease and try and save the planet we live in.

What will the legacy of Michael Jackson? How will he be remembered by generations as yet unborn?

Let’s be grateful to God that he sent us such an angel to live amongst us for a while and let us not be indifferent to the wrongs we see around us. If Michael ever wanted us to do one thing that would make him happy as he looks down over us today it would be not to turn away from the victims of oppression and aggression and if in doubt about ever knowing what how to act. . . just think . . .

. . . ‘What Would Michael Do?’

-Dr. Patrick Treacy

A video of the speech can be seen here:

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Jun 15 2011

Gardner St. Elementary celebration & other June 25th events and suggestions

Category: Children,Humanitarian,PhotosSeven @ 11:38 pm

Gardner School Auditorium

Gardner School Auditorium

If you remember, a while back on this site I shared with you the magnificent achievement of having Michael’s name finally uncovered on Gardner St. Elementary School’s auditorium. It was mentioned at that time that a more formal celebration would be planned later. That event has finally been planned: On June 25th from Noon to 4 p.m. Gardner St. Elementary School will host  “A Celebration of M.J.J’s Life”. Special guest appearances are expected from Tom Mesereau, William Wagner, Geraldine Hughes, Larry Nimmer and Majestik Magnificant. Larry Nimmer will be filming the event and you can get more details from Sandy Scott . You MUST have tickets to attend the Gardner St. event. To obtain yours, see http://mjjforeverinnocentfoundation.org/

Also planned for June 25th is of course a special delivery of flowers, cards, and messages from the Sunflowers for Michael group (donations for the June 25th delivery are now closed though) as well as a helicopter fly-over and sunflower drop over Neverland . The deadline for the sunflower drop is June 20th!

Another “event” being planned for June 25th is World Flag Day in and around LA:  “In and around LA, all groups and supporters of Michael Jackson from around the world are invited to carry a large flag or a personal-sized flag representing their nation.”  So – if you’re going to be in LA on June 25th especially from outside the US – carry or wear a flag from your nation in support of Michael.

All these are wonderful ways to remember Michael and I know he’d appreciate any of it.

But if flowers, flights, travel, flags, and public events aren’t for you and you want to do something different, remember what Michael himself lived for – helping others – especially children.

Michael [Jackson] told me, “we’re all put on earth to do something”. He said “I was put here to help children.” Which he did from the time I met him, he was 29 when I met him, that was what his life was all about. It was that way all the way up to the time he died. Michael never changed. Michael had incredible empathy, especially (for) children that were injured or sick or neglected. There were people that were hungry and homeless and that was always in the front of his mind his whole life.”

-David Nordahl on his friend Michael Jackson [Interview conducted by Deborah Kunesh]: http://www.reflectionsonthedance.com/interviewwithdavidnordahl.html

•

If you have a local friend, neighbor, or organization that needs help or donations, help them that June 25th weekend. Tell them that it’s on behalf of a friend named Michael or tell them Michael sent you. If they ask for more details, tell them who that friend is. Or if it seems appropriate, tell them straight away. If that isn’t possible or you’re uncomfortable with that idea, maybe consider making a memorial donation to a charity in Michael’s name for June 25th.

Michael has supported following charities:

Great Ormond Street Hospital
Jane Goodall Institute
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Prince’s Trust
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Starlight Children’s Foundation
TJ Martell Foundation
United Negro College Fund

And you know, if none of this is for you, just quietly remembering Michael in your heart is enough. Keeping his memory safe and warm is the most priceless gift.  No matter what you do around June 25th to remember Michael, he’ll know — and he’ll love you more either way. ♡

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Dec 23 2010

Joanelle Romero – Michael’s gal pal from Gardner St. Elementary

Category: Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 6:40 pm

On this site, you’ve seen posts about Gardner Street Elementary, whose auditorium once again proudly bears the name ‘Michael Jackson Auditorium‘, and you’ve seen a piece called “The Socio-political Message in ‘Black or White’” (namely, the video along with the panther dance sequence).

Joanelle Romero, Sage and Michael

Joanelle Romero, Sage and Michael

Now, here is one person who ties both of these stories together.

Joanelle Romero went to school with Michael at Gardner St. Elementary and he even asked her to go steady with him on the steps of the school before she was unceremoniously whisked off to live in New Mexico with her dad, ending their pre-teen romance. But that wasn’t the end of their story . . .

SOURCE: http://twitpic.com/2zhie9

On June 25th 2009, I was packing and moving out of a house we had lived in for 6 years and an acquaintance phoned me and said Michael Jackson is dead, turn on the TV.I dropped the phone, turned on the television and there it all was, I fainted, no one was home with me. I woke and cried and cried and I am still crying. My heart is so broken; you see Michael was a friend and he believed in me. I’ve known Michael since I was 10 years old, we went to school together at Gardner Street school off of Sunset Blvd, we were in the 6th grade together. I was always invited to go to his house to play, he would swing me in this big tree swing and we would speak of our dreams. Michael asked me to go steady on the steps of Gardener Street school. Two weeks before school ended my mother sent me to live with my dad in NM. I never got to say goodbye to Michael.

One week before Michael left this earth, my son and I were shopping at Nordstrom’s, and we run into Jermaine. I asked him to please tell Michael I needed to see him, that I needed to visit, that it was important and I gave him my new numbers. God works in mysterious ways.

In 1991, I launched my production company, it was 2 weeks old when I received a call from Michaels casting office, asking if I had any American Indian dancers because everyone he had been interviewing wasn’t right. I told them “I have the best dancers in town” I really had no one, however I went to many Pow wows and gathered 30 dancers, one of them being my precious daughter Sage. She was 5 then. Michaels casting office had no idea that Michael and I knew each other. To make a long story short. Director John Landis, cast 5 dancers, my daughter – who was the jingle dress dancer, and four other dancers from the native community here in Los Angeles that I brought in that day.

Michael shot 7 hours of photos of Sage while shooting his video and used her image for his painted angels in his Neverland ranch. We had so much fun while filming. Michael, Sage and I watched “Willie Wonka” 3 times while everybody had to wait on set. Michael took Sage and Nancy Reagan to lunch, he had asked if I wanted to go however I declined for obvious reasons. Many stories to remember …..

We had shot the segment of the native dancers in the studio, then Michael read one of my music video scripts and one week later we were on location re-shooting the native segment out-side. Due to Michael’s insight, he added my production company and shared the press in Entertainment Weekly.

Michael became the leading force in making my company known to the world. It is now an award-winning production company in producing American Indian documentaries and independent films. The 1991 “Black or White” music video and song made history. I was able to negotiate for the American Indian dancers to be paid over and above any dancers on any music video ever, due to the fact they were traditionally dressed (the wardrobe did not come from western costume). To date, they are the highest paid dancers in the music video industry. Also, this segment was the first clip of American Indian dancers in a music video without being a Native American music group/artist.

Michael and Sage

Michael and Sage

On our opening night of our 2009 Red Nation Film Festival – A Night of Tribute Awards, we honored Michael Jackson for his “Black or White” Music Video – In Loving Memory of Michael Jackson. I have many personal stories about Michael and that I will keep in my heart forever. I am not going to spend my life being a color, I am a Human Being
– God Bless You MJ
Together we can Heal the world make it a better place.
…..We Love You Michael ……..

-Joanelle Romero

Raven of AllForLoveBlog tells us more about the Jingle Dress dance (Thank you Raven!):

Thank you for this story. I had been thinking about this little girl for some time (I’m a Jingle Dress dancer, too; have been for many years). I didn’t know her name so I feared it might be a long, drawn out process to try to locate her. For those who don’t know the story behind the Jingle Dress or the dance, I would like to share it here. I am sure Sage or Joanelle at some point may have shared the story with Michael (perhaps; perhaps not). But anyway, it’s a story he would have appreciated. The Jingle Dress is a sacred, healing dance that began among the Chippewa and Ojibwa people. A little girl was very, very sick (most likely appendicitis because she held the side of her stomach. But at the time, there was no way to know the cause of her ailment). Her father was very troubled because he couldn’t help his daughter, and he knew she would die soon. So he went to bed and prayed to be shown a way to heal her. In his dream, he was given a vision of his daughter wearing a dress of cone jingles that sounded like the breaking of ice, and performing a dance of very intrictae footwork. He was instructed exactly how to make the dress.

Different tribes have different versions of the making of the first Jingle Dress. But the story I was taught, and that I believe is closest to the original, is that the father made the dress himself. Anyway it is my favorite version of the story because I love the idea of this very devoted father and warrior actually taking the time to sew a little girl’s dress, and to make sure every cone was arranged as according to his dream. As he sewed, he cried many tears and prayed over each tiny jingle.

When the dress was completed, the little girl wore it and danced the dance. At first, she was very slow and clumsy and held her side because she was in pain (that is why to this day, most Jingle Dress dancers keep one hand on their hip throughout the dance). But as she danced, the pain gradually went away and soon she was healed. That is a true story among the Chippewa, and the little girl lived to be an old woman who was greatly revered.

It’s really a beautuiful story of a father’s love, devotion, and faith. I can’t help but think of Michael’s own relationship with his daughter as I retell the story.

Here’s a link where you can see a couple of ladies actually performing The Jingle Dress dance. In the Black or White video, Sage doesn’t really get to perform the dance. She is just doing what we call an Intertribal step. But this is how the dance would have looked when she actually performs it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZaF1EuDOK0 .

Michael and Sage

Michael and Sage

Joanelle Romero with drum, balloons, and MJ T-Shirt

Joanelle Romero with drum, balloons, and MJ T-Shirt

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Oct 22 2010

Michael is in the Picture: Heartwarming Gardner Street School Update

Category: Children,Friends,Humanitarian,Justice,Photos,VideosSeven @ 2:20 am

You can’t see him, but he’s there. That is to say, I hope he knows about this and and can see the incredible photo below of Principal Kenneth Urbina and the kids in front of Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner St. Elementary School. He would absolutely love this photo! The kind and wonderful Mr. Urbina sent it to the campaign today.

Principal Urbina and Gardner St. Students in front of Michael Jackson Auditorium

Principal Urbina and Gardner St. Students in front of Michael Jackson Auditorium

Principal Urbina also left a very kind comment on the Uncover MJ’s Name Campaign’s Facebook page. Mr. Urbina said:

Thank all of you so much for all your PROFESSIONAL dedication in making this happen. You were fortunate to have such a logical and persistant leader here in LA as Jennifer to work with me and guide the process on your end. We have sent her a video of the removal of the boxes from Michael’s name which she will post, thanks to Christina and Michael Bulbenko, two phenomal parents of former “Gardnerville” students. We are all working with the executive producer of the Jackson family events in planning an official media event to rededicate the auditorium in December. Stay tuned for updates and SPECIAL thanks to all who are sending donations to my school. You can be assured that every donation will go towards the effort to support our arts and music programs in Michael’s name.

– Principal Kenneth Urbina, Gardner St. School Principal

We can’t WAIT to see that video and the re-dedication in December!  Something else very worth mentioning, and which Mr. Urbina alluded to in his comment above is that the campaign has organized a plan for MJ’s fan-mily to donate funds and/or supplies to the Gardner School and other needy schools in LAUSD. They are sorely in need of copy paper, pencils, and notebooks to write in – yes, just basic supplies!  Sadly, the schools in LAUSD are struggling right now like many across the nation and we want to help. Michael would want that too, I believe. He’d want to help the kids.  Details are on their Facebook page here, and I’ve also provided them below. The campaign is also donating remaining funds they collected for the campaign to Make a Wish Foundation (one of Michael’s favorite charities) and to an international charity for either Afghanistan or Haiti relief.

If you want to donate to the school, the paypal address that has been set up for donations is: [email protected].

Send supplies to:
Gardner St. Elementary School
7450 Hawthorn Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90046

School needs – #2 pencils, copy paper, and notebooks

Send checks to:
*same school address*
Name on cheque: Principal Kenneth Urbina

NOTE: All proceeds will go towards the purchase of school supplies for Gardner St. School and other LAUSD schools in need, as well as funding for arts and music programs at Gardner St. School (portion of the donations).

I’m gonna make a change, it’s gonna feel real good

Here’s a heartwarming video of Michael unveiling his name on the auditorium. You can clearly hear him say “This is the happiest day of my life“…

I hope Michael is smiling again now, wherever he is.

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Oct 15 2010

Michael Jackson’s Name is Officially UNcovered on the Gardner St. Elementary School Auditorium! (UPDATED)

Category: Justice,PhotosSeven @ 10:52 pm

It’s been on the ‘Advocacy‘ tab here for months. I just posted an update yesterday that the ‘Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign’ had finally secured a place at the LAUSD School Board meeting on October 19th, where their arguments to have his name uncovered on the Gardner St. Elementary School Auditorium would be heard. The school’s principal and Asst. Supt., as well as the PTA was fully in support of the effort, and had let the campaign know. Things were looking good! But we had no idea how good! We learned just today that Michael’s name is already uncovered, even before the Committee meeting on the 19th!

Yes, after 7 long years, Michael’s name is finally uncovered on the Gardner St. Elementary School Auditorium. It is once again “Michael Jackson Auditorium“. How did this happen even before the October 19th LAUSD meeting with the ‘Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name‘ group? I’ll explain below but first, a picture that will surely make Michael smile in heaven:

Michael Jackson Auditorium

Michael Jackson Auditorium, UNCOVERED October 15, 2010 (Photo © Laura Uselton)

Here’s what happened (this was updated as I learned more about how events unfolded behind-the-scenes):

Jennifer Marino of the Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign had gotten word early Friday morning from Gardner St. school that Michael’s name had been uncovered. She notified Jackson family friend Jodi Gomes and was subsequently asked to keep it under wraps until Mrs. Jackson could formulate and make a statement. Somehow the information was leaked though, so the campaign decided to announce that it had been uncovered on Friday evening. Then, Taj Jackson also announced it on Twitter, and released Mrs. Jackson’s statement. Family friend Jodi Gomes, Taj and his grandma Katherine Jackson, came up with the statement to go along with the announcement.

Thanks to God the Great Creator, Jennifer and the Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign and all of MJ’s fan-mily who have worked so hard for months to make this happen! This campaign run by Michael’s fan-mily was both inspired and an inspiration. They were focused, dedicated, and were not distracted from their goal by petty issues. Their campaign is a fine example of what Michael’s fans can accomplish if they stick together and remain focused on a goal. They conducted this campaign very professionally and respectfully to all involved – knowing that they were representing Michael and his legacy. What an incredible effort. Michael must be so proud of of his fan-mily right now, wherever he is!

Thanks not least, to Mrs. Katherine Jackson who is very happy and proud about this as well, and who, along with grandson Taj and Ms. Gomes, did her part to help make this happen after being made aware of the campaign.  Here is the official statement from Taj Jackson and Katherine Jackson:

‎On behalf of my grandma, we are thrilled that the “Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign” has come to a happy conclusion. Here is a direct quote from my Grandma…

“After a number of heartfelt conversations between me, my grandson Taj, family friend Jodi Gomes, and LAUSD, I am overwhelmed that the school will proudly bear my son’s name on its auditorium once again. This could not have been done without the tireless dedication of my son’s fans and specifically the wonderful members of the “Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign. I look forward to my joint statement with the school in the coming days and thank you from my heart. Michael would be proud”.   – Mrs. Katherine Jackson

Taj tweeted this evening:

Once HelpUncoverMJXx (Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign) brought it to my attention, I contacted Jodi Gomes and my Grandma. Jodi Gomes and I have been working with my Grandma behind the scenes. We got the confirmation this morning.

So there you have it. Victory!  Even the LATimes has covered the story.  Journalist Charles Thompson had written (and has now published) an incredible statement for the cause, which was to be read at the LAUSD meeting on October 19th.

A more formal joint statement/ceremony is being planned with Mrs. Jackson and LAUSD officials. Meanwhile, here is the press release from the LAUSD today:

LAUSD Announcement 10-15-2010

LAUSD Announcement 10-15-2010

We love you Michael Jackson and we hope you are smiling in Heaven, sweetheart!

UPDATE October 16, 2010

Michael Jackson's Name Uncovered  (Photo © Betty Byrnes)

Michael Jackson's Name Uncovered (Photo © Betty Byrnes)

Today, Oct. 16th, I just had to see this sweet sight with my own eyes, so I went to the school today and simply could not stop smiling. It was over cast but for me those letters were bright as the sun. What a beautiful sight!!

While taking my pictures an open air Star Tour bus stopped and the driver told the tourists, “Here you see the “Michael Jackson Auditorium. This was dedicated to Michael Jackson and there was a big event that day and Michael was present. His name was covered years ago and now thanks to fans who campaigned to have his name uncovered Michael Jackson’s name was uncovered this week.” Then the driver asked me if I was a fan and I said “YES! JUSTICE FOR MJ! VICTORY!” Moments later a van filled with 20 something guys drove by and I heard them exclaim “Look it’s there!!! MICHAEL JACKSON’s Auditorium!!” “Wow!” “COOL!” “They did it!” Neighbors walking by smiled and nodded at me as I took my pictures.

Thank God for answered prayers. This may be a small step toward the justice that Michael Jackson so deserves but this small event is so huge to us fighting and praying for Justice for MJ. We are encouraged and I pray it especially encourages and blesses Michael’s family.

-Betty Byrnes

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