Declaring that children have “the right to an education without having to dodge bullets at schools,” Michael Jackson called for the establishment of a “universal children’s bill of rights” in a speech delivered at Oxford University’s hallowed debating chamber Tuesday.
With tears streaming down his angular cheeks, Jackson — who denied a 12-year-old boy’s 1993 claim of sexual molestation but settled the case out of court for an undisclosed sum — said, “Childhood has become the great casualty of modern-day living,” according to a transcript provided by his publicists.
“My father was scared of human emotion. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me,” the 42-year-old King of Pop said. “But despite my earlier denials, I am forced to admit that he must have loved me.”
Jackson has two pre-adolescent children with his second ex-wife, Deborah Rowe; his first ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, is the daughter of Elvis Presley, the late King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Speaking before students and journalists, Jackson wore his signature black and white suit and walked on crutches, having broken his right foot in a fall last week.
Although tears streamed down His mood wasn’t entirely solemn — he joked about other celebrities who have spoken at the prestigious English school, including Malcolm X, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein.
“I do not claim to have the academic expertise of other speakers who have addressed this hall, just as they could lay little claim at being adept at the moonwalk … Einstein in particular was really terrible at that.”
Jackson was promoting Heal the Kids, a branch of the Heal the World Foundation that he founded last year with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author of “Kosher Sex” and “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments.” Jackson introduced the charity during a speech at Carnegie Hall in New York last month.
Psychic Uri Geller accompanied the singer, according to Reuters. Jackson will serve as best man at Geller’s wedding Wednesday (March 7).
After his speech, Jackson celebrated with a $23,470 dinner party at Blenheim Palace, according to the Daily Telegraph. The entryway was sprayed with disinfectant as part of Britain’s fight against the highly contagious foot-and-mouth livestock disease outbreak.
Jackson will appear at Michael Jackson Day at London’s Apollo Theater on Wednesday evening. His international fan club is organizing the 10th annual event.
On the music front, Jackson is scheduled to release his first album in a decade in the summer. R&B hitmaker Rodney Jerkins, R. Kelly and Jodeci member DeVante DeGrate have produced tracks for the as-yet-untitled project (see “Michael Jackson Nearing Completion Of New LP” ).