Minnesota Lawmakers Want to Give Prince the Congressional Gold Medal: 'Icon'

The state's entire congressional delegation cosponsored a bill to honor the singer for his "legacy of musical achievement" and for leaving "an indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture"

Ilhan Omar; Prince; Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Forget red or blue — Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Ilhan Omar want to honor Prince with the Congressional Gold Medal for making the state of Minnesota purple.

The senator and congresswoman led their state's full congressional delegation with the introduction of a bipartisan bill to recognize the singer, who died in 2016 at 57, for his "legacy of musical achievement" and for leaving "an indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture."

The legislation lists Prince's many accomplishments — including the release of 39 albums, numerous awards, his advocacy for artistic freedom and expression, the sale of more than 150 million records, songs he wrote for other artists and being "widely regarded as one of the "greatest musicians of his generation, his innovative music incorporated elements of rock, R&B, funk, hip-hop, new wave, synth-pop, and jazz."

"Like so many, I grew up with Prince's music," Klobuchar, 61, said in a statement. "I was always proud to say he was from Minnesota. 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."

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Minnesota Republicans and Democrats are cosponsors of the Prince Congressional Gold Medal Act, which, if passed, will call on the secretary of the Treasury to "strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions" and on Senate and House leadership to arrange a posthumous presentation of it.

"Prince is a Minnesota icon," Omar, 39, said."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 bestowed by Congress, according to a statement from Rep. Omar. Only 163 have been awarded since 1776, with the first going to George Washington.

The legislation, which must be sponsored by two-thirds of members in both the House and the Senate, also provides instructions for the medal given that its recipient is deceased.

"The gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be available for display as appropriate and made available for research," according to the legislation. "The Smithsonian Institution shall make the gold medal received … available for display, particularly at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, or for loan as appropriate so that it may be displayed elsewhere, particularly at other appropriate locations associated with the life of Prince."

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