Prince's legacy defined by music and humanitarianism

Prince: icon, innovator, humanitarian

The musician’s greatness was equally defined by his philanthropy

(Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)

(Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)

Sadly, we all had to say goodbye to one of the 20th century’s greatest musical contributors yesterday, when singer-songwriter Prince died suddenly at his home in Minnesota at the age of 57.

The Grammy and Oscar-winner, though, was so much more than a one-of-a-kind performer and instrumentalist. Behind the scenes, he privately donated money to charitable causes and was an advocate for black youth.

A compelling example of Prince’s humanitarianism was told by the Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday, when he described how the legendary artist contacted him to donate money to the family of Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin.

“I will never forget when he called me and said he had some funds he wanted to give to Trayvon Martin’s family,” Sharpton said to the New York Daily News. “Just out of the blue. Just out of the clear blue.”

“He didn’t want anybody to know,” Sharpton added. “He didn’t even want Trayvon Martin’s family to know where the funds came from.

“He didn’t want to get involved in partisan politics. He was very concerned about human rights. We spent hours talking about his concerns about technology and getting those skills to inner city youth.”

In the wake of his death, more stories of his quiet philanthropy are now being discussed publicly—for instance, his secret donation to help keep a historic public library in Louisville, Kentucky, from shutting down. No doubt, more will emerge.

So the next time you load up Prince on your iTunes, don’t forget to also reflect on his legacy of charitable giving and think about how you can make the world around you a better place, too.

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