In January 1980, Michael Jackson was 21. He had not yet released "Thriller," nor had he been crowned King of Pop or inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But even then, he seemed to have a sense of the legacy he was building and the icon he would become.
"Blank On Blank," a PBS web series that animates previously unheard interviews with cultural icons, revives Jackson's 1980 talk with music journalist John Pidgeon, bringing the audio to life with whimsical imagery and giving us a glimpse at Jackson's thoughts on what the future might hold.
The interview is a strange one. As Pidgeon explains in an essay on his website, Jackson had requested that any questions put to him had to first be relayed through his 13-year-old sister, Janet, even though they were all sitting across the same glass-topped table.
Nevertheless, Pidgeon managed to capture a few eerie quotes from Jackson.
"I think secretly and privately there is … I mean, really deep within, there is a destiny for me and just for me to stay on that track and follow it," Jackson said during the Q&A.
The performer also touched on his role in uniting America through music. (Bear in mind, this was years before the debut of his single "Black or White.")
"You hear us talk about the peacock a lot because the peacock is the only bird of all the bird family that integrates every color into one," Jackson's said. "That’s our main goal in music. When you go to our concerts and you see every race out there and they’re all waving hands and they’re holding hands and they’re smiling and dancing. All colors."
In the decades that followed this interview, Jackson would go on to become a cultural unifier. As the Reverend Al Sharpton said after the singer's death in 2009, "Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama."
And Jackson seemed to know that, even in 1980.