Thousands of fans and admirers gathered today to honor the first anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.
The city dedicated a monument to Jackson outside his childhood home, at 2300 Jackson street. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the home to see the dedication of an eight-foot tall, 5,000 pound jet-black granite placard. The monument includes an outline of Michael's face over text that tells his life story.
Among the well wishers was one very special guest – Michael’s mother, Katherine Jackson.
"I'm sure my son would be very pleased, very honored if he were here today," Katherine said at the dedication of a memorial in his honor. "This past year has been a very hard time for us. If it wasn't for you, the fans, we couldn't have made it through."
Katherine has been making home improvements for the event, giving the small house a new roof, a fresh layer of paint and a redone sidewalk and driveway, said Gary, Ind., Mayor Rudy Clay.
The tribute events happening outside Jackson’s childhood home will include the unveiling of a monument and a performance of “We are the World”.
Jackson friend Judge Greg Mathis spoke at Friday's ceremony and urged fans to live their lives how Jackson would have wanted.
"To show his love as the greatest humanitarian that ever lived. So I think we can at least give it the best shot we can to follow what he represented."
Comedian Eddie Griffin expressed anger over the man he believes is responsible for Jackson's death.
"This is America and there's a thing called justice. And I can't understand [how] a doctor gets a bail for $25,000. If I go steal a candy bar, they're going to set my bail at a million."
Jackson lived at 2300 Jackson Street until age 11, when he and his family relocated to the West Coast to continue the Jackson Five’s fame. He was last in Gary in 2003. Talks of a museum and performing arts center began in 1995, but the building has yet to be constructed.
Jackson died from cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009. Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said the tribute to Jackson will be an annual event.