Arts & Entertainment

Jackon memorial draws remote viewers to LA's First AME Church

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About 250 people, most of them African-American, gathered at First AME Church in South Los Angeles Tuesday. Together, they took in live TV coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial. KPCC's Patricia Nazario has more on the moments that mattered most to them.

Patricia Nazario: As Stevie Wonder made his way to the stage at Staples Center, the crowd inside First AME's main sanctuary stood and cheered. A hush fell over the room as the iconic artist sat at the piano.

Stevie Wonder: This is a moment that I wished I didn't live to see come.

Nazario: Another moment that propelled these Michael Jackson fans to their feet was Reverend Al Sharpton’s eulogy. When he placed the entertainer’s career in a racial context, the activist from New York City seemed to say what this audience was aching to hear.

Rev. Al Sharpton: And I want his three children to know there was nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with.

Nazario: Applause and cheers thundered through the sanctuary as if the King of Pop himself had moonwalked to the pulpit. After the memorial ended, 45-year-old Monique Cooper said tabloid reports about Jackson's cosmetic surgeries had never interested her.

Monique Cooper: They don't talk about any other entertainers changing their looks. They made a big deal out of that because Michael Jackson has done what no other entertainer in this world has done. He broke barriers. He crossed the line. He crossed over and he brought about unity in everybody. He didn't care whether you were black or white.

Nazario: Cooper, a hairstylist, said she’d been to many Michael Jackson concerts over the years. She felt that the church was an appropriate place to observe his memorial on five giant flat-screen TVs. First AME is L.A.'s oldest African-American congregation. Michael Jackson made a surprise visit to children at its Sunday school about five years ago.