×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Southern Christian Leadership Conference Slams ‘Leaving Neverland’ as ‘Posthumous Lynching’ of Michael Jackson

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has written a letter to HBO asking the network to reconsider airing “Leaving Neverland,” the two-part film about Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of minors that’s set to premiere on the network Sunday and Monday. President/CEO Dr. Charles Steele invoked the civil rights organization’s founder, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in defending Jackson against the documentary, which he called “an affront to his legacy” and a “posthumous lynching.”

“It troubles me that HBO/AT&T/Warner Media would lodge allegations against someone who is deceased and not able to defend himself,” Steele said in a Feb. 27 letter to HBO. “These same allegations, when raised in trial in a court of law during Michael Jackson’s lifetime, affirmed his innocence,” he continued, referring to the 2005 trial in which the two then-minors, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now claim they were forced into lying under oath as children to protect the superstar.

The SCLC’s letter echoes the sentiments of Tito, Marlon, Jackie and Taj Jackson, who on Feb. 26 sat for an interview with CBS’s Gayle King to vouch for their belief in the late singer’s innocence. Last week, the Jackson estate sued HBO on grounds that the studio is in violation of a non-disparagement clause that was present in previous TV specials about Jackson. As of HBO’s most recent response to the Jacksons’ lawsuit, their plans to air the documentary have not changed.

Leaving Neverland,” which garnered critical raves after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, renews allegations against Jackson regarding the sexual abuse of minors at his Neverland Ranch.

“I am voicing these concerns at the behest of the loyal supporters of the Jackson Family,” Steele wrote in the letter. “In the spirit of Dr. King and his nonviolence philosophy, we ask that you reconsider your decision to air this documentary.”

Read the full letter below:

Dear Sirs,

As national President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I find the posthumous lynching, “Leaving Neverland,” to be both unfair and unacceptable.

It troubles me that HBO/AT&T/Warner Media would lodge allegations against someone who is
deceased and not able to defend himself. These same allegations, when raised in trial in a court of law during Michael Jackson’s lifetime, affirmed his innocence. Furthermore, the subjects of the documentary have given numerous conflicting stories and have been widely discredited. Additionally, the documentary is admittedly one-sided, offering no chance for rebuttal.

To try Michael now in the court of public opinion is an affront to his legacy, a smear to his reputation, and incongruent with the principles of justice and reconciliation which our founding president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. professed in his nonviolence philosophy.

I am voicing these concerns at the behest of the loyal supporters of the Jackson Family. As a human and civil rights leader, I find the concept of the documentary offensive. In the spirit of Dr. King and his nonviolence philosophy, we ask that you reconsider your decision to air this documentary. We are available to meet or discuss this important and sensitive issue at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,
Dr. Charles Steele
President/CEO
National SCLC

More TV

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content