There are two kinds of people who give to charity in this world — those who give to be seen giving, and those who give to help others. There is a reason celebrities and politicians host $25,000 a plate dinners with red carpets and TV crews, and there is also a reason the term ‘anonymous donor’ exists.
Since the death of Prince last week, we are finding out that the artist was the latter of the two types of donors mentioned above. In a recent interview with CNN, political activist Van Jones revealed the artist’s secret role in bringing solar to California.
“There are people who have solar panels right now on their houses in Oakland, California that don’t know Prince paid for them,” Jones said.
Jones explained that while he was the face of the environmental group, Prince was the man behind the checkbook.
Bringing solar power to the Bay Area wasn’t the only endeavor Prince anonymously undertook either. He was also a founder of #YesWeCode, an initiative to help young people from “low opportunity backgrounds” learn the necessary skills for jobs in the tech sector.
“He insisted we create ‘Yes We Code,'” Jones told USA Today, “so that kids in hoodies could be mistaken for kids in Silicon Valley.”
According to Jones, Prince would even set tour dates in particular cities as a “cover,” and while he was there, he would check in on his local charitable endeavors.
“He did not want it [to] be known publicly, and he did not want us to say it. But I’m gonna say it because the world needs to know that it wasn’t just the music,” Jones said. “The music was just one way he tried to help the world, but he was helping every day of his life.”
While Prince took the humble route in his charitable efforts, he was bravely and unafraid to use his celebrity status to seek justice.
“What many people didn’t know is that he would support many of our civil rights causes,” Al Sharpton said in an interview with People. “I remember when we were raising the issue of justice around the Trayvon Martin killing. Prince called me and sent some funds that I gave to the family for him and never wanted recognition for it.
“He went into Baltimore around the policing issue and did a concert to help the family. So, he was one that did not want to make a lot about his humanitarian and activist involvement, but he was very much involved in what was going on in the country. He was very much involved in Human rights.”
Just last year, when Prince was presenting the album of the year award at the Grammy Awards, he took time out to acknowledge he backed Black Lives Matter.
“Albums still matter,” he said when presenting album of the year. “Like books and black lives, albums still matter – tonight and always.”
“He really believed that young people could change the world,” Jones said. “[He was] not just a great musician, [but] a great human being at every conceivable level. He’s a humanitarian first and foremost.
“There are people who are in hospitals right now who get anonymous gifts. He never wanted anybody to know how much of a humanitarian he was. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness. They’re not supposed to speak about their good work. But, this is a guy who cared so much.”