Prince's lesser-known philanthropic legacy
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Prince was famous for the songs he produced and performed, but his reign at the top of the music charts came with another more personal and quiet quest to help lift others up.
It is a side of Prince that tells a lot about his character and which had a profound and personal impact on many lives in Oakland and the Bay Area.
His protege Sheila E., an Oakland native and longtime friend, shared Prince's passion for paying it forward.
On Friday, she gathered with Prince's family and other friends at his Paisley Park home and studios in suburban Minneapolis and shared her memories of the pop icon.
"Him not there, just broke my heart," Sheila E. said to KTVU's Amber Lee by phone, "I'm not done crying, I'm still grieving."
"Losing my best friend and someone that I love so dearly, 38 years of being together, it just ah...overnight changed my life," Sheila E. said.
Prince changed many lives in his 57 years both onstage and offstage.
In Oakland, he's credited with being the visionary that launched the #YesWeCode non-profit group which partnered with Oakland's Qeyno Labs to inspire young black men to enter the tech world through hackathons.
"Hacking is about disrupting the way things are being done and interrupting," said Kelley Nayo Jahi, Qeyno Labs' Chief Operating Officer.
Nayo-Jahi said the idea started with a private conversation between Prince and his friend Van Jones, a Bay Area activist, as they talked after the shooting of Trayvon Martin about stereotypes.
"They were saying how is it that a black boy in a hoodie is perceived as a threat, but a white male in Silicon Valley is perceived to be a genius," Nayo-Jahi said.
"Van's perpsective was, you know, this is just racism and it makes me angry," Nayo-Jahi said, "And Prince paused and said maybe, or maybe it's that we aren't turning out enough black Mark Zuckerbergs."
The two organizations #YesWeCode and Qeyno Labs plan to continue working to realize Prince's vision of nurturing more black tech entrepreneurs.
On their websites, they posted their memories and a message for Prince, "Thank you for being our hacker."