Prince May Be Honored With Posthumous Congressional Gold Medal

“He showed that it was okay to be a short, Black kid from Minneapolis and still change the world,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Prince Super Bowl XLI Performance

Prince performs during the “Pepsi Halftime Show” at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on Feb. 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Lawmakers hope to honor Prince with a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal. On Monday (Oct. 25), the full Minnesota delegation in Congress introduced bipartisan legislation to bestow the honor onto the late musician. Led by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Senate and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the House, the bill honors the Purple Rain performer’s “legacy of musical achievement and… indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture.”

Klobuchar first introduced legislation to honor the life and legacy of Prince back in April 2016 when the legendary artist passed away. The resolution was passed and agreed to in Senate. Now, the lawmakers aim for the larger recognition of the “When Doves Cry” singer’s cultural impact.

“Like so many, I grew up with Prince’s music. I was always proud to say he was from Minnesota,” said Klobuchar in a press release. “The world is a whole lot cooler because Prince was in it—he touched our hearts, opened our minds, and made us want to dance. With this legislation, we honor his memory and contributions as a composer, performer, and music innovator. Purple reigns in Minnesota today and every day because of him.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Omar added, “I remember when I first came to America being captivated by Prince’s music and impact on the culture. He showed that it was okay to be a short, Black kid from Minneapolis and still change the world. He not only changed the arc of music history; he put Minneapolis on the map. Places like First Avenue, Uptown are landmarks because of Prince. I am proud to introduce this resolution to give Prince the recognition he deserves.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States Congress. Former President George Washington was the first to receive the honor before it was expanded to include actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, and foreign recipients.

Since the inaugural honor in 1776, only 163 have been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal including Rosa Parks, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, The Tuskegee Airmen, General Colin Powell, The Little Rock 9, Frank Sinatra, and Marian Anderson.

Prince and Beyonce Performing

Beyoncé and Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on Feb. 8, 2004, in Los Angeles.
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

On April 21, 2016, The Purple One died of an accidental overdose at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minn. Throughout his musical career, he has released more than 30 albums, sold over 100 million records, won seven Grammy Awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, among an endless list of awards and achievements.

The full Minnesota delegation serves as original cosponsors, including Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Representatives Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Pete Stauber (R-MN).

“Minnesotans are incredibly proud of Prince, our beloved cultural icon and a true musical genius. His music left an indelible mark on the cultural fabric of our state and our nation, and his legacy will continue to inspire new generations of musicians to dream big and embrace their inner artist,” said McCollum.

To be approved, legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to be awarded.

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