The footage of Minneapolis Public School educators striking 52 years ago was dug up in an effort to give some historical context for a strike staged by educators in the same district just last month. After the video was restored, station production manager and local history buff Matt Liddy decided to scan the video for old landmarks, but was startled when he seemed to recognize one boy being interviewed by a local reporter.
Liddy was certain the boy was Prince and started showing the clip to his colleagues, asking who they thought it might be. Pretty much everyone agreed it was Prince.
In the clip itself, a reporter asks Prince if most of the kids are in favor of the teachers’ strike, to which he quickly replies, “Yup.” He then adds, “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.”
To actually confirm it was Prince, reporters first tried, unsuccessfully, to track down another boy in the video who identified himself as Ronnie Kitchen (Prince never actually says his name in the video). They then turned to Kristen Zschomler, a Minneapolis-St. Paul historian, who was also confident it was Prince in the clip. The longtime Prince fan noted the school in the background was likely Lincoln Junior High School, where Prince would’ve attended in April 1970. Zschomler also had a photo of Prince from around the sixth grade that looked exactly like the kid in the video.
Zschomler then connected reporters with Terrance Jackson, a childhood friend of Prince’s since kindergarten, a former neighbor, and a bandmate in Prince’s first band, Grand Central. When watching the video, Jackson first recognized Ronnie Kitchen, then exclaimed, “That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That’s Skipper! Oh my God!” (“Skipper” was Prince’s childhood nickname.)
Jackson added, “He was already playing guitar and keys by then, phenomenally. Music became our sport. Because he was athletic, I was athletic, but we wanted to compete musically.”
While the footage of Prince in the news report is scant and not so much tied to his musical legacy, Zschomler noted it’s still one-of-a-kind as there are pretty much no publicly available videos of Prince as a pre-teen. “I think just seeing Prince as a young child in his neighborhood school, you know, it helps really ground him to that Minneapolis connection,” she said. “Even if they’re momentary glimpses into what Minneapolis meant to him, what he stood up for when he lived in Minneapolis, just helps understand that symbiotic connection he had to his hometown.”