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Katherine Jackson doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day or birthdays for religious reasons. But Michael Jackson’s mother, who turns 86 on May 4, but she never forgets the principles that coming with being a mother.

Born in 1930, Katherine contracted polio at the age of two. Though she survived the devastating disease, she would walk with a noticeable limp for the rest of her life. As a child, Katherine wanted to be a country singer, but became discouraged upon realizing that there were rarely successful Black people in country music.

Katherine later met Joe Jackson in 1947. After he annulled a previous marriage, the couple married in 1949. They sang together, while Joe played guitar, until he took a job at a steel mill and Katherine began giving birth to what would eventually be 10 children.

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Katherine Jackson On Motherhood: “It Never Leaves You”  was originally published on