By Jeremy P. Jacobs - 07/07/09 08:29 PM EDT
Jackson Lee delivered a eulogy at the much-watched, much-talked-about service, taking the stage shortly after Jermaine Jackson sang “Smile” and right before crooner Usher took the spotlight to sing “Gone Too Soon.”
She mixed the titles of Jackson’s songs into her speech, which ran about six minutes and spoke of how his music made the world a better place.
For those wondering how a Houston lawmaker ended up sharing the stage in Los Angeles with mega-celebrities like Kobe Bryant and Stevie Wonder, the answer can be traced back to 2004, when Jackson Lee invited the King of Pop to Capitol Hill for meetings with African ambassadors.
A relationship between Jackson Lee and the Jackson family ensued, according to the lawmaker’s chief of staff, Leon Buck.
One day after Jackson died on June 25, Jackson Lee introduced a lengthy resolution in the House honoring the 50-year-old entertainer and, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, led the chamber in a moment of silence.
Not long after that, she received a call from Jermaine Jackson asking if she’d speak at the memorial service.
In her eulogy, Lee praised Michael Jackson for putting his stardom to good use.
In particular, Lee praised Jackson for helping fight the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa and even worked in some of his most popular lyrics.
“It did not matter whether we were black or white,” she said. “He even told us to beat it, to beat the violence, and look at yourself in the mirror. Because it meant, if you were going to make a difference, look at the man or woman in the mirror.”
The Democrat also addressed the child-molesting allegations that plagued Jackson over the years, as well as recent remarks from Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who criticized the media for its coverage of Jackson’s death and called the entertainer a “pervert” and a “lowlife.”
“I can tell you as a member of the United States Congress,” Lee said, “we understand law, and we know that people are innocent until proven otherwise — that is what the Constitution stands for.
“So I mourn today,” she added.
Jackson was acquitted of the charges.
On Tuesday King, who is considering a run for Senate, didn’t back off the comments he first made Sunday at an American Legion hall in his district.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) scolded King, saying he was “off the wall” and that his comments were “inappropriate and unnecessary.”
“To speak evil of the deceased at a time that his family and fans are mourning is not fitting or appropriate,” the civil rights icon said.
Molly K. Hooper contributed to this article.