With all the mourning and music, celebrity performers and soaring speeches by African American leaders at Staples Center on Tuesday, it was easy to overlook a quieter spectacle. Michael Jackson's memorial served as a grand unveiling for the singer's children.
While their father was one of the most photographed men of the last half-century, his sons Prince Michael II, 7, and Prince Michael Jr., 12, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11, have remained in the shadows, surfacing only in paparazzi photos and until recently, wearing fanciful masks whenever they were in public.
On Tuesday, however, the children arrived before the eyes of the world without disguises. They sat in the front row with their grandmother Katherine Jackson. At one point, the Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the children, telling them their father was an inspiration to the African American community.
"There wasn't nothing strange about your daddy," Sharpton said. "But it was strange what he had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway. He dealt with it for us. Some came here today to say goodbye. I came here to say thank you."