In Uptown, a track from his extraordinary 1980 album Dirty Mind, 22-year-old Prince sings about a place where “black, white, Puerto Rican, everybody’s just a-freakin’.” The album itself is the first in a sequence of works in which Prince redefined black music, putting Minneapolis on the map alongside the larger, more established centers of popular culture. While the city’s most famous and well-loved son was black, his community has always struggled there.
The death of George Floyd, a black man pinned down by the neck by a white police officer as he begged for mercy and stopped breathing, has destroyed the myths of Uptown. It’s now a protest song. And despite its reputation as a proudly progressive town—according to The Economist in 2014, the sixth most liberal city in America—most African Americans in Minneapolis have still not had the opportunity to reach economic parity with their white neighbors.
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