The King of Pop’s hometown just outside Chicago in Gary, Indiana, has been infused with new hope for the revival of what was once a thriving community.
The celebration was in full force at 2300 Jackson Street as the city marked the home of the Jackson 5 with official highway signage.
“They know Gary all over the world,” said Tito Jackson, brother of the late Michael Jackson and a former member of the Jackson 5. “Let’s just put it on the map the way we should.”
One woman drove to Gary from Philadelphia to see Tito and his brother Marlon, also a former Jackson 5 member, in person and to thank them for their impact on music.
The sign will stand near a new Hard Rock Casino, a very recent addition to Northern Indiana. City residents hope the new signage and the casino will revive Gary and get the city back on its feet.
“Many years back Gary was a thriving city,” Marlon Jackson said. “The Inland Steel was here where my father worked. A lot of jobs were available, and it was booming. Then for some reason, the economy collapsed and went sour. It’s time to bring this diamond in the rough back to the forefront. The people here will go to the casino, and the economic stability will change in this city with the dollars being spent. They’ll use those dollars to further develop growth in the city and bring it to a potential we know it to be.”
“Gary is a great place,” Tito Jackson added. “Everything we accomplished in our past right here at 2300 Jackson Street came from hard effort and work, right here at this house.”
When asked about their childhood memories of the home, Tito Jackson said: “I just remember the layout of the house, and the nosey neighbor across the street that told on us all the time.”
“This street would stop right here,” Marlon Jackson said. “The gravel would go up in the back there where we would play. It’s just crazy to think all of us were even conceived in this little itty-bitty house.”
The Jacksons are used to achieving a lot with a little. And the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed them down.
“Tito has a new blues album,” Marlon Jackson said.
“During the pandemic, I put together a blues album and have collaborated with artists like Stevie Wonder and Eddie Levert,” Tito Jackson said.
The highway signage is just one of many acknowledgements the world-famous family is working on to honor their childhood home.
“We’re working on making it a historical site,” Marlon Jackson said. “I mean people from all over the globe want to come see the home, which makes us feel so good. It helps you understand the musical blessing that God has been bestowed upon this family, and what the whole purpose of that blessing was. To bring people together all over the globe in harmony and peace.”
You can see that new signage on I-80/94 in Gary, right next to the Hard Rock Casino. The historic home is located at 2300 Jackson St.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.