52-year-old news footage of a teacher’s strike revealed an interview with a young Prince
Late last month, educators and school district officials in Minneapolis, Minnesota came to a tentative agreement that ended a three-week-long teachers’ strike. The agreement put an end to a standoff that closed classrooms for around 30,000 public school students.
The strike was the first for Minneapolis Public Schools in 52 years. In April 1970, teachers left the classrooms and grabbed picket signs for a historic 20-day standoff. At the time, the teachers took a huge risk because public employees were banned from striking.
“The moment they picked up a placard and set foot on the pavement to join a demonstration, they had violated state law,” Dr. William Green, an Augsburg University history professor, told WCCO.
Although the teachers eventually returned to work without a pay raise, the strike prompted the state to give public workers the right to bargain collectively.
As part of its coverage of the 2022 strike, Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO hunted down some archival footage of the 1970 demonstrations to show the common themes between both movements. WCCO Production Manager Matt Liddy dug up 13 minutes of restored footage from the original strike in the station vault to use in his new report.
The footage included a reporter interviewing schoolchildren as teachers picketed near a school. Liddy was shocked when he noticed that one of the children being interviewed looked a lot like Minneapolis and worldwide music icon Prince. In 1970, the artist was known as Prince Nelson.
“I immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people and saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’ And every single person [said] ‘Prince,’” Liddy said.
The newsroom didn’t have the correct equipment to hear the recording, so it found a specialist to extract the audio of the interview.
“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 child suspected to be Prince said.
It’s pretty clear why Liddy thought the child in the footage was Prince. The kid physically resembles Prince and his smile is definitely reminiscent of the “Raspberry Beret” singer.
Unfortunately, the child doesn’t say his name to the interviewer. But one of his friends in the video enthusiastically announces that he is “Ronnie Kitchen.” The news crew attempted to find Kitchen but their contact information turned up dead ends.
WCCO then reached out to Kristen Zschomler, a Twin Cities historian who is also a big fan of Prince. She had collected a large, 100-page document following Prince’s rise from Minneapolis to worldwide fame that included pictures of him as a kid.
“I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince,” she said.
Zschomler connected them with Terrance Jackson, a boyhood friend of Prince’s who played in his first band, Grand Central. When shown the video, Jackson immediately noticed Kitchen and Prince.
“Oh my God, that’s Kitchen,” Jackson exclaimed as the video began. “That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That’s Skipper! Oh my God!”
Prince’s friends called him Skipper when he was a kid.
Liddy’s find is an incredible discovery for Prince fans and people who grew up in Minneapolis. It shows that even before Prince was a teenager he had a twinkle in his eye that would become a trademark of his larger-than-life personality. Nobody knows where incredible charisma comes from, but after seeing this footage, maybe Prince was just born with it.
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