The death of a legendary artist and musician best known as, “Prince”, came as a sudden shock to the world on April 21, 2016. Prince released his first studio solo album at the age of nineteen and is known for his celebrated chart-topping records such as “Purple Rain”, “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss”.
Prince went on to sell over 100 million records, won seven Grammys, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He undoubtedly touched the hearts and souls of millions with his music, style, and personality.
Conversely, those closest to Prince stated that he left behind more than his music. Although Prince may have shied away from publicizing his efforts, his ex-wife, Manuela Testolini, described him as a “fierce philanthropist” in a statement following his death. Reverend Al Sharpton also commented on Prince’s philanthropic efforts. During an appearance on MSNBC, Sharpton stated, “What many people didn’t know is that he [Prince] would support many of our civil rights causes”.
After the 2012 shooting that led to Trayvon Martin’s death, Prince donated money to the Martin family. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed seventeen year old who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch member, George Zimmerman. Trayvon’s tragic death sparked a national controversy over racial profiling, which ignited conversations about race relations in the United States.
The extent of Prince’s passion, with regard to racial and social issues, was apparent at the Grammy Awards in 2015, when Prince presented Album of the Year and made the statement, “Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter – tonight and always.”
In this statement, Prince was referring to the Black Lives Matter movement which was stimulated by the 2014 police killing of an unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He donated $1.5 million through a charity concert that donated to Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations in line with the message.
Is this the extent of Prince’s philanthropic involvement?
In an interview with CNN, activist and close friend, Van Jones stated that “he’s [Prince} a humanitarian, first and foremost”. Jones and Prince were recently working on organizations such as Green for All, which creates green jobs in disadvantaged communities; #YesWeCode, an organization with a mission to educate 100,000 low income youth about technology; and Rebuild the Dream, a movement that seeks to raise awareness on issues such as excessive incarceration, student loan debt, and racial injustice.
Prince’s generosity does not end there.
After a show in 2011, at the mayor’s request, Prince donated $250,000 to Eau Claire Promise Zone, an organization working to help preschoolers and their families in struggling neighborhoods in north Columbia, South Carolina. He also donated $1 million to the Harlem Children’s Zone, a non-profit organization for poverty-stricken children and families living in Harlem, and $250,000 to the Uptown Dance Academy when he found out they were going to lose their space back in 2011.
He also supported the City of Hope, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Jazz Foundation of America, The Bridge, Urban Farming, H.A.L.O., the Edith Couey Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund, the Elevate Hope Foundation, and the Goss-Michael Foundation.
Prince’s humility and faith as a Jehovah’s Witness did not allow him to speak publicly about his humanitarian efforts. Although, it was through his music, charitable giving, and way of life, which inspired others to believe in hope for justice and opportunities. His creativity and boldness knew no bounds, as he demonstrated genuineness through his messages and actions.
Prince’s ability to master his art has impacted multiple generations around the world for nearly four decades. There is no doubt that even after Prince’s sudden death his legend to inspire hope for the oppressed will live on