“You can’t get over, if you say you just don’t care. Show me a boy who stays in school and I’ll show you a boy aware.” –Prince, from his 1985 Pop Life single
arva Collins, the superstar Westside educator who died last year at the age of 85, often said that being a celebrity isn’t important; it’s what the children learn that’s important. An HBCU graduate, Ms. Collins was a firm believer in the value of a teacher’s time spent with a student. In the mid-70s, this incredible visionary used her own pension money to open the Westside Preparatory School, which started in a university basement before moving to the second floor of her home and eventually relocating to its own building near Collins’ residence. Shortly after these moves, enrollment increased from 20 students to over 200 and the school became a global model.
One of her biggest fans was rock star Prince, who in the early 80s, got wind of her work and quietly supported her financially to the tune of $1M. Prince not only made the donation but also became co-founder and honorary chairman of Collins’ National Teacher Training Institute, created so Collins could retrain teachers using her methodology of individual attention, strict discipline and love.
Never forgetting where he came from, Prince Rogers Nelson achieved musically what we at Endeleo strive to see our children gain holistically: complete control of their own destiny. Whether it be a historically black, four-year traditional or community college, our people must leverage education, think entrepreneurially, create their “art” and own it.
In a moving tribute to Prince, writer Marc Bernadin recently wrote words that could easily speak to Ms. Collins’ legacy as well when he said, “Prince gave black kids the license to be who they wanted to be, not what society thought they should be.”
We adore you both. Rest peacefully.