×
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

  • Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal

    Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal at WarnerMedia

    Dwayne Wade is bouncing his way into WarnerMedia’s court. The retired NBA All Star has signed a multi-faceted, multi-year deal with the company, including a development deal via his 59th & Prairie Entertainment production banner. Part of the deal sees Wade sign on as a commentator at Turner Sports. He is set to make appearances [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    CBS Renews 'Evil,' Orders Full Seasons of Four Other Freshman Shows

    CBS is doubling down on all its new shows. The network has renewed “Evil” for a second season, and handed out full-season orders to its other four freshman series, namely “All Rise,” “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola.” “Evil” is set to conclude its 13-episode first season (creators Michelle and Robert King [...]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis

    Jamie Lee Curtis to Produce Military Drama With Put Pilot Order at Fox

    Jamie Lee Curtis is teaming up with April Fitzsimmons and Berlanti Productions for a drama project that has received a put pilot order at Fox. Titled “Chain of Command,” the one-hour project follows a young Air Force investigator with radical crime-solving methodology who returns to her hometown to join a military task force that doesn’t [...]

  • Michael MannLACMA: Art and Film Gala,

    TV News Roundup: Michael Mann to Direct and Executive Produce HBO Max's 'Tokyo Vice'

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO Max names MIchael Mann as a director and executive producer of “Tokyo Vice” and Chip and Joanna Gaines announce the first original series coming to the couple’s Magnolia Network. DATES Netflix announced a six-episode docuseries centered on Nasty Cherry, the latest all-female group signed to Charli XCX’s label will [...]

  • Johnny Galecki House Burns Down

    'Big Bang Theory' Duo to Develop eSports Comedy at NBC

    A former “Big Bang Theory” star and one of the show’s writers are developing a multi-camera comedy about eSports at NBC, Variety has learned. Titled “The Squad,” the project hails from executive producer Johnny Galecki and writer and executive producer Anthony Del Broccolo, who was previously a writer and co-executive producer on “Big Bang Theory.” The [...]

  • John Clarke dead Days of Our

    'Days of Our Lives' Star John Clarke Dies at 88

    John Clarke, best known for portraying Mickey Horton on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died due to complications of pneumonia in Laguna Beach, Calif. on Oct. 16. He was 88. Clarke suffered a stroke in 2007 and had been in a state of deteriorating health over the past few years. His daughter, Melinda, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content