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Obama on Michael Jackson’s role

By Dave Cook / July 7, 2009



During the president's stay in Russia Tuesday, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Mr. Obama about Michael Jackson’s role in paving the way for other black Americans and got a response that sought to put Jackson's accomplishments in a wider context.

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In posing the question, Mr. Todd, political director for NBC News, cited remarks the Rev. Al Sharpton made Friday, saying that "Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama.”

Todd's question to the president: "Do you buy that argument?"

A wider context

The president’s response: “You know, what I do believe is that black sports figures and black entertainers helped to create a comfort level with African-Americans that had an impact historically dating back to people like Sidney Poitier or Louie Armstrong, up through Michael Jackson. So I would say that he's part of a long line of black entertainers that had an impact on the culture.”

The Rev. Mr. Sharpton repeated his position at Tuesday’s memorial service for Jackson in Los Angeles.

“Those young kids grew up from being teenage fans of Michael's to being 40 years old and being comfortable to vote for a person of color to be the president of the United States of America," he said.

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