On April 9, 1970, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union spearheaded a strike joined by nearly 60 percent of the city’s 3400 teachers. With so many educators picketing outside school buildings, plenty of lesson plans were abandoned inside the classrooms. Some non-participating educators and substitute teachers lumped classes together and played movies for the students. Other schools simply sent everyone home.
The teachers were calling for higher wages, smaller class sizes, a better promotion system, and more time during the school day to prepare lessons (among other requests). As negotiations progressed with the city board of education, all public schools were closed for a good two weeks. They finally worked out a deal at the end of the month.
But before that, reporters spent a lot of time soliciting opinions from community members—students included. And one of those bright young pupils was none other than 11-year-old future superstar Prince Rogers Nelson, known to his friends as “Skipper.”
In the video below, Prince is asked if most of the kids are in favor of the picketing. “Yup,” he says, explaining that the teachers deserve better pay and education opportunities because of all the extra hours they work.
As Entertainment Weekly reports, the footage sat in storage at Minneapolis TV station WCCO for more than half a century, with nobody aware of Prince’s show of solidarity. But in the wake of Minneapolis’s recent teachers’ strike, producers decided to restore the film reel as a way to revisit the history of teachers’ strikes in the city. And when production manager Matt Liddy caught a glimpse of Prince, he knew exactly who it was.
Because Prince isn’t named in the video, WCCO embarked on an investigation to confirm his identity that involved Facebook sleuthing, yearbook photo inspection, and a meeting with Prince historian Kristen Zschomler. She was able to put the team in touch with Terrance Jackson, one of Prince’s childhood friends. “That’s Skipper!” Jackson exclaimed when he saw the clip.
According to Jackson, Prince had already become a skilled guitar and keyboard player by that age. And according to Zschomler, footage of the Purple Rain star as a preteen is exceptionally rare, making the discovery all the more special.
You can watch WCCO’s news segment on the story, complete with Prince’s appearance, here:
[h/t Entertainment Weekly]