Everyone knows exactly what they were doing on 25 June 2009, the day of Michael Jackson’s untimely death. Fans been mourning The King of pop ever since, along with the end of an era he represented.

Five years on the world still remembers him as a revolutionary humanitarian and a master of music. Over the years Michael was admired for his ability to incorporate charitable work into his songs, such as Man in the Mirror, with the proceeds from sales all going to a camp for young cancer sufferers.

To pay tribute to a legend we have compiled a list of our favourite five MJ hits and the charitable message behind them.

1. Man in the Mirror

The only video MJ produced but didn’t feature in, Man in the Mirror is a song with a purpose. This was Michael’s attempt to persuade people to join in and help others. Making no profit from the sales of this record, he donated all the proceeds from this song to helping children suffering with cancer to have fun – as children should. Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times is a charitable organisation providing medically supervised, free, yearly camp programs for children with cancer.

(contains small amount of kissing)

2.  Beat It

This action packed rock and roll hit, composed by Michael and co-produced with Quincy Jones, portrayed Michael’s hate of violence and the abuse he suffered from his father as a child. Beat It tackles violence amongst gangs in the ghetto areas of America, featuring 80 members of the Crips and Bloods (two rival gangs in California) amongst the professional dancers in his music video. By including these men in the video, he opened up many job opportunities for dancers in the US.

3.Heal the World

This music video was the springboard for Michael Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation, a campaign to help improve the lives of children everywhere. He also wanted to use the foundation to teach children how to help others so that future generations would know compassion and humility. The video shows the impact that children have on the world; their happiness is infectious and demonstrates that our concern for the future generation should overcome our need for war.

4.Earth Song

The images in Earth Song are aimed to shock. Part of Michael’s campaign to save the earth, he was determined to shed light on how the world could end up if we carry on the way we are. In 1995 MJ did a lot of work for his Heal the World foundation including freeing dolphins who had been kept in captivity, working with schools to provide safer environments and better education, and hosting the World Child’s Congress.

5. Black or White

Jackson was always looking for ways to use his fame to influence change for people who were suffering. Black or White was a powerful message for racial acceptance and equal rights in a time when there was still a major inequality. The video features Macaulay Culkin and various other children, saying that they won’t “Spend their life being a colour.” His tireless work with charities supporting black people, such as his collaboration with the NAACP to stop prejudice against black singers, made Michael a great influence in the establishment of the equal rights act.

Words: Annabel Morris

Image: zoran veselinovic/flickr