Michael Jackson took Hollywood with Ben in 1972, at a time when few black Americans had shaped the industry. “Little Michael landed upon the mindset of film-hungry black America when its citizenry was starved for identity on the big screen,” writes Wil Haygood in the Washington Post. The black community took him under its wing, and took pride in him as he grew.
“He was a little brother; he was a precious boy; he was like the prodigy in your own church.” His huge success made him the talk of the town. “It seemed as if he could snap his finger and make something happen,” Haygood notes. “The Wizard of Odd, yes, but in black America, Michael was a pioneer. Michael was a kid, and allowances must be made for kids.”