The news at Henry High School: Prince’s Northside

Susan Breedlove retired as a social studies teacher from Henry High School in 1998, however, retired doesn’t nearly begin to explain her ongoing involvement at Henry.  More descriptive and accurate words would include engaged, passionate and connecting—always connecting people and events to one another.

Ms. Breedlove, as her students and fellow staff call her, substitute teaches at Henry and other Northside schools a couple days a week. She’s also a volunteer resource for students and school staff seeking to strengthen infusion of cultures into classroom curriculum, is a coordinator of landscaping at Henry, and a creator of hundreds of rotating hallway displays at Henry over the last 15 years which emphasize a community thematic approach of inclusion into the spirit and life of Henry.

For Black History Month Breedlove chose to create a prominent hallway display near Henry’s main entrance which pays homage to legendary musician Prince, with a focus on his upbringing and development on the Northside–a story that often seems underreported in the media. Many are unaware that Prince spent part of his childhood living on the Northside and attended John Hay Elementary School.

One of Breedlove’s close friends, Bernadette “Bernie” Anderson, took Prince into her home when he was a teenager. Her children, including Andre’ Cymone (born Andre Simon Anderson), were influential in his early musical development. The Henry hallway display tells the story in pictures and artifacts of Prince’s rise on the international music scene. Those pictures and that story are as relevant as the Grammy performance honoring him on February 11.

Just a few highlights from the Prince’s Northside display at Henry High:

The Way on Plymouth Avenue was a gathering space for African American youth in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Prince hung out there after school observing the older kids of the band Family (Sonny Thompson, Randy Barber, Pierre Lewis, etc.) and picked up instruments himself.

Musical Collaborations began on the Northside: Musical geniuses like Prince, Andre’ (Anderson) Cymone, Morris Day, Lisa Coleman, Jimmy Jam Harris, and Terry Lewis lived within blocks of each other on the Northside. They formed groups including Grand Central and The Time. Prince’s first concert as a solo artist was at The Capri Theater on Broadway on January 5, 1979 – tickets were $4.75 at the door!


Submitted by Tom Murray