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Sheila Jackson Lee Introduces Michael Jackson Before Congressional Black Caucus

Aired March 31, 2004 - 16:29   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile we want to take you live to Capitol Hill, getting an audience there, Michael Jackson, meeting with some members of the Congressional Black Caucus to focus attention on what he says is Africa's AIDS epidemic, something that he feels close to. He is supposed to receive an award from African ambassadors for his charitable work to fight the disease.
As you know, back in California, Michael Jackson is facing a grand jury right now, possibly a grand jury rather is hearing evidence against Michael Jackson in a child molestation case against him. Let's listen in as Sheila Jackson Lee, a supporter of Michael Jackson and this cause steps up to the mike to introduce him.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D) TEXAS: If I can add a moment of levity, first of all I want to thank you all very much for your patience. But we were having a very, very deliberate, very serious meeting. And I think the members of congress that are here would conclude that if we can only get Michael at every one of our press conferences we might be able to generate the kind of movement in America that all of us are committed to, changing the face of America, and making positive changes.

But let me welcome you this--to this very brief briefing, acknowledge my colleague, my co-host congressman lacy clay of Missouri, I'm delighted to be joined as well by congressman Jesse Jackson of Illinois. Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois, as well.

In addition, the meeting was more complete by the attendance of ambassadors and representatives from Angola, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Senegal Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. We're very pleased to have the chair of the HIV/AIDS Committee of the African Ambassador's Corps, the ambassador, Madam Ambassador from Swaziland with us here as well.

As I said to you, this was a very serious meeting to discuss clearly the scourge of HIV/AIDS. You've heard us talk about this over the months and years. But I cannot imagine a greater asset to be able to heighten the responsibility of this government in its commitment to fighting against the scourge of AIDS and making good on the Bush Administration's commitment of $15 billion than a meeting with our friends from Africa and Michael Jackson.

We are glad to be able to report that Michael Jackson has been committed, but he's going forward to be committed and will announce a tour in progress -- or a proposed tour that will occur with the members of the ambassador corps who are here, who invited him to come to Africa. That tour, keeping in mind the requirements in California, will be made good. And Michael Jackson will go to Africa on the specific basis of fighting the scourge of AIDS and economic development.


That wasn't loud enough.


We want you to know that there are 40 million people living with AIDS, there are about 3 million children living with AIDS and there are about 3 million dying every day. There can never be too much attention on this question.

I am grateful for this meeting and very pleased that the ambassadors gave us a very intimate insight into the pain that is being felt by those in Africa. And the details include portable water, a lack of food and necessary resources for health care. And all of these issues are ones that should be required to be supported by the funding commitment of the Bush administration.

I think Michael even said it in the meeting, quoting a news article, unkept promises on AIDS. And we were here today to insist that the promises be kept on AIDS, but more importantly the promises be kept to the world family who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. Let me conclude by simply saying that Michael's work is not a work of today. It is a long history.

And I believe that his presence today reaffirms that he has a history of commitment in the past and a history going forward. And what he said is not only is his interest in the scourge of AIDS in Africa, but he realizes the devastation of AIDS in America. And so his approach will be holistic. And we're grateful for the fact that he has joined us today.

With that, there are no questions at this time and Mr. Jackson will not make a statement. So, allow us to just complete our words and be able to finish. Would you just hold for a moment?

May I have Congressman Clay?

REP. WILLIAM LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Thank you very much, Congresswoman Jackson Lee.

This meeting today was about the 29 million sub-Saharan Africans who are dying...

PHILLIPS: Live pictures from Capitol Hill. The king of pop there, Michael Jackson, getting quite an audience on Capitol Hill. We're told that he is not going to make a statement. It could be because, back in California, a grand jury is hearing evidence in the child molestation case against him. It looks like they're making a decision that he not step before the mike. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee talking about his history in a fight to combat Africa's AIDS epidemic.

Michael Jackson is meeting with all those members of the Congressional Black Caucus to focus attention on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Tomorrow, he is supposed to receive an award from African ambassadors for his charitable work to fight that disease.


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