Yesterday, I had the opportunity and privilege to attend the Prince Born Day Purple People Party, hosted by Spike Lee and Sway. The event was held at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza on Herkimer Street between New York Avenue & Brooklyn Avenue. With my daughter in tow, we navigated through the throngs of people who were dressed in purple t-shirts with a nod to the 80’s fashion era. Iconic images of Prince were engraved on t-shirts, vendors were selling their wares and as we entered the square, the first thing that caught my attention was a purple flag with the Prince symbol hoisted on top of a building floating in the wind. As I walked through the crowds, hearing Prince’s voice bellow through the loud speakers instantly gave me life. The people of Brooklyn were in rare form as they held their heads and hands towards the sky rocking and swaying to the music. It was almost as if they were waiting for the Purple One to magically peer through the sky and give them the Prince wink.
Arms flailed in the air as people moved to Prince’s various hits, such as Cream, Diamonds and Pearls, Darling Nikki, Raspberry Beret, Purple Rain and unknown hits that only true die hard fan of Prince would know. Hands held high in the sky would occasionally form into the black power fist. As much as we were enjoying ourselves, the current social climate for men and women of color loomed heavily in the minds and hearts of many. The event meant so much to many. It was a day to finally pay their respect and honor such a prolific artist; it was a day to escape and relive a part of a lost era. Most importantly it was day to let loose and channel frustrations, anger and love through music and dance. With that being said, a power to the people fist is very appropriate at a Prince tribute/event, because his music covered everything from sex, love, politics, his personal struggles and the music industry. His life was dedicated to making a statement, stimulating dialogue and forcing acceptance of self.
Capturing this moment was essential to me. I wanted my daughter to see and understand and feel what good music is. I know that I can’t force her to love what I love, but I can teach and expose to her to different artists. Finding a spot next to the stage wasn’t hard and surprisingly, it was easy. Security was relaxed. I guess Spike Lee told them to let the people be, because there were no issues. The people were lovely and it was just a great day- a magical one. You know it’s magical when it starts to rain while Purple Rain is on.
When I finally found my spot, I settled in and made my daughter comfortable, She looked so confused in the beginning, but would later warm up. I told her to listen and feel the music. I dance, snapped photos, laughed and enjoyed the moment. Eventually my daughter caught the contact, because she started feeling the energy in the space and was moving right along like everyone else. There were some key highlights at the event. Busta Rhymes coming on stage had the crowd hyped. Black Lives Matter Activist came on the stage with power and to remind us to support and sign petitions to free Jasmine Richards who was convicted early this week of felony lynching. However, the spirit that weighed heavily in all our hearts was the great Muhammad Ali who transitioned on Friday June 3, 2016. The Prince Born Day Tribute was also a celebration of the polarizing figure that was Muhammad Ali.
Attending this event is one that I will never forget. It was a great moment shared and captured through my lens and words. But for me, I finally got to be part of the Prince family of fans to say good-bye. When news broke out, that Prince died, I was knee deep in wrapping up my last semester of school. I thank you Spike Lee for organizing an event for those of us that couldn’t be present in Forte-Green on April 21, 2016.