In March 2001, pop legend Michael Jackson flew into the UK to give a talk at the Oxford Union but he nearly didn't make it.

The singer who grew up a Motown star broke his foot just days before he was due to speak at the historic debating chamber.

Oxford Mail:

But the Thriller superstar promised fans the injury would not stop him making his speech on child welfare at the union on Tuesday, March 6. About 500 people attended.

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More than 20,000 Michael fans applied to see his speech at the Oxford Union and hundreds packed St Michael's Street outside and nearby Cornmarket during the afternoon before he arrived, filling the city centre with deafening chants of "King of Pop".

They waited around for hours before the legend arrived under an umbrella with his entourage, which included the illusionist Uri Geller and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

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It was a memorable night for those who got to stand just a few feet away from Michael Jackson outside the union and for those inside who got to hear his speech, in which he insisted every child had the right to a bedtime story.

At the time the singer was chairman of the Heal The Kids foundation which aimed to "take action on child welfare issues at both global and local levels".

Oxford Mail:

The 42-year-old, who was famed for his Moonwalk dance, had fractured a bone in his foot in a fall at his home, the Neverland Valley Ranch in California but he insisted on making the trip to Oxford to meet his commitments.

It is understood that following the talk he was driven to Blenheim Palace where he enjoyed a lavish meal.

When Michael Jackson died in 2009 students at the Oxford Union said they planned to stage a memorial talk with celebrity guests in his honour.

Oxford Mail:

Inside the Oxford Union

Union president James Dray, 26, a politics postgraduate, said at the time members of the committee booking speakers were discussing how best to stage it.

He said: "Michael Jackson’s visit was quite an important day in the history of the Oxford Union, and we want to stage something to mark that occasion.

Oxford Mail:

James Dray

"I wasn’t around at the time, but I gather the whole of Oxford came to a standstill as people waited for Michael Jackson to arrive.”

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Following the singer’s death, staff at the union in St Michael’s Street collected together photographs of the singer’s visit.

When fellow pop legend Lionel Richie arrived at the union in 2012 to talk about his musical career he said: “Michael Jackson told me I would be impressed and I am impressed."

Oxford Mail:

Lionel Richie

A TV documentary in 2019 entitled Leaving Neverland contained sex abuse allegations against Michael Jackson.

We’re excited to launch We Grew Up in Oxford, a new online community for everyone who loves our great city. In our new Facebook group, we’ll be delving into the archives - both recent and older - to bring you memories of what it was like growing up and living here through the years.

We hope you’ll join us and get involved in the project, and remember to let us know what memories from your glory days you want to see in the group. We Grew Up in Oxford, so now it’s time to celebrate that.