Jackson patriarch ignores fuss to push his new fizz, 'jocola'


Michael does Oprah; Joe does Baltimore.

"Michael's interview with Oprah was good for Michael. It sort of put me down a little bit. When you chastised a youngster back in the early ages, we called it a whipping. Now it's called child abuse," said Joe Jackson, father of Michael, LaToya and all those other singing and confessing Jacksons.

But that was all he would say on the subject; the press conference he held in Baltimore yesterday was called to promote his new soft drink, "jocola," rather than to discuss his children's allegations that he abused them.

Most recently, on a Feb. 10 heart-to-heart with Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson said his father used to beat him and make fun of his complexion. And, in 1991, LaToya Jackson said her father had sexually abused her as a child, which Mr. Jackson has denied.

Mr. Jackson was in town to speak with officials at Sojourner-Douglass College about becoming distributors of his cola, which he began selling in Washington in August. Jocola -- sold in a purple, red and white can that bears Mr. Jackson's signature and proclaims him "father of the Jackson entertainment family and renowned entrepreneur" -- puts him in direct competition with son Michael, who since 1984 has been paid tens of millions of dollars to promote Pepsi-Cola.

Without naming his own son, Mr. Jackson criticized African-American celebrities who endorse products that are owned by white corporations, thus helping take money out of black communities.

"There are all these blacks who endorse products but don't play a part in the product. In putting this soda together, we wanted to stress we're dealing with minority people," Mr. Jackson said.

Sojourner-Douglass, a private, predominantly black institution, hopes to use students in paid positions to run a jocola distributorship, which would fulfill the school's requirement that all students work in an internship in their field of study.

"We like their mission. It matches with Sojourner-Douglass' mission of community empowerment," said Charles Simmons, president of the N. Caroline Street college.

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