Prince Remembered as Tech Advocate for Black Youth

Angela Bronner Helm
Prince performs at the 10th Anniversary Essence Music Festival at the Superdome on July 2, 2004, in New Orleans.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

No matter what the circumstances of his death, those who honor, revere and love Prince know that the contributions of his masterful life are what truly matter.

And though he was not always vocal about it, Prince loved blackness and black people, and this especially extended to young people.


Pundit and advocate Van Jones remembers His Purple Highness as a fierce advocate for the next generation, especially around coding and technology. He says that Prince was the impetus behind his #YesWeCode initiative, whose goal is to teach 10,000 low-income children to code.

Jones told USA Today that after the Trayvon Martin verdict, he and Prince were talking, and the foundation for YesWeCode was set.

“Every time you see a black kid wearing a hoodie, you say, ‘There’s a thug.’ If you see a white kid wearing hoodie, you say, ‘There’s Mark Zuckerberg,’” Jones said.

“I said, ‘That’s because of racism.’ And Prince said, ‘Maybe so, or maybe you civil rights guys haven’t created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.’”


And so the musician worked with Jones to make those brown Zuckerbergs a reality.

Prince reportedly only agreed to do the 2014 Essence Music Festival if it hosted a hackathon, which it did. He then paid for several other hackathons in other cities after that. 


As it related to the Essence fest, Jones recalls, “He didn’t talk about set lists. He didn’t talk about compensation. He talked about ‘How many kids can we help?’ That’s all he wanted to know. What can we do that will help these kids out here? And then we did hackathons all across the country in Detroit, in Philadelphia—all of that inspired or outright paid for by Prince.”

Read more at USA Today.

Share This Story