Archival footage of Prince campaigning for better pay for striking teachers when he was 11 years old has emerged online.
In the video unearthed by Minneapolis news station WCCO, the young electric guitar icon can be heard voicing his support for the strike, and saying, “I think they should get a better education, too, 'cause, um, and I think they should get some more money 'cause they work, they be working extra hours for us and all that stuff.”
The newly unearthed video material from 1970 was discovered while WCCO production manager Matt Liddy was searching for material to contextualize a similar strike that occurred earlier this year.
After stumbling upon the film in the WCCO archive room, Liddy – who had a hunch it was a clip of a young Prince Rogers Nelson – began showing it to his colleagues, who all came to the consensus that it was indeed Prince.
According to CBS 4, “[Liddy] immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people and saying, ‘I’m not going to tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’”
Despite the supposed similarities in appearances, the child being filmed never explicitly revealed his name, and as such the production crew set about verifying and confirming their suspicions.
First, the team attempted to locate another child from the footage, a “Ronnie Kitchen”, who they believed could identify Prince. Alas, every lead they followed from phone books and addresses only led to dead ends.
They then contacted historian Kristen Zscholmer, a life-long Prince fan who noted that the location of the footage was most likely Lincoln Junior High School, which Prince would have attended when the clip was filmed.
Zscholmer, who at the time noted that videos of Prince as a pre-teen are almost non-existent in the private eye, said, “I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince.”
The historian eventually put reporters in touch with one of Prince’s childhood friends, Terrance Jackson, who was able to immediately identify both Ronnie Kitchen and Prince, saying, “That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That’s Skipper!” Skipper was Prince’s nickname growing up.
A second identification then came from Jackson’s wife, Rhoda, who grew up with the pair.
“He was already playing guitar and keys by then, phenomenally,” Terrance Jackson said. “Music became our sport. Because he was athletic, I was athletic, but we wanted to compete musically.”
On the significance of the discovery, Zscholmer added, “I think just seeing Prince as a young child in his neighborhood school, you know, it helps really ground him to that Minneapolis connection.
“Even if they’re momentary glimpses into what Minneapolis meant to him,“ she continued, “what he stood up for when he lived in Minneapolis, just helps understand that symbiotic connection he had to his hometown.”