Written, Produced, and Directed by: Beyoncé
Running Time: 137 Mins
Last night, Beyoncé dropped her Netflix Movie and Live-Album of the same name, “Homecoming”. Both are recordings of her legendary 2018 Coachella performance. Written, directed, produced by the singer, and filmed over eight months, the Netflix special is part concert/documentary with a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put on a performance of this caliber.
Just in time for Summer cookout season (please check to make sure you’re invited first), make sure you peep B’s rendition of Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go“.
Being two broke boys, we weren’t able to fly to Cali to attend her performance last year, but even after watching this on film, Queen B has a way of leaving you feeling inspired. This was Black Excellence. Unadulterated Blackness. Pride. College Marching Bands. Culture. The embodiment of the Black College experience on full display. For me personally, having attended an HBCU, this truly felt like coming home. Ms. Knowles-Carter nailed it. To give you a sense of why this portion of the show is so important to black people in general, let me give you a quick primer on HBCUs.
Brief History of Black Colleges and Universities
Before the Civil War (yes, we are going that far back) higher education for black people was not a thing. After the war ended, freed slaves were not granted admission to colleges and universities. But, we struggled and we fought, and we found ways to educate ourselves regardless. Black clergy and white allies helped to start smaller schools around the South to educate freed slaves. Howard. Hampton. Fisk. Morehouse. Spellman. More than 100 of these schools are still open to this day (thanks in part to federal funding starting in 1964) and they are known as Historically Black Colleges or Universities, or HBCUs
Why are these schools still important? Well, the United States is still dealing with institutional racism in higher education. Historically, not being admitted to attend segregated colleges and universities, HBCUs were our saving grace during these times. HBCUs are still necessary today because they have been the mainstay of educating African Americans at the college and university levels. Black communities throughout our nation are still being devastated by economic polarization and by racial discrimination endemic to higher education at white institutions and black universities help to educate our people and give us a more level playing field.
Well. That was a lot. So let’s get to the fun stuff.
For those that “don’t understand the big deal about Beyoncé” , and the hero worship shown by her followers, let us break down the shit for you. People love Beyoncé not only because she is an amazing singer and performer, she’s also pure Black Excellence personified. She is unapologetically black and our community feels pride in what she has been able to accomplish. She has ALWAYS put her and our blackness front and center:
Formation – A black child dances in front of a line of cops wearing SWAT gear, bringing attention to the inequalities that we see in the media and on our streets. Young black children, men and women are gunned down and brutalized on a regular basis. Her message? We see you. And we will stand defiant.
Super Bowl Halftime Show (x2) – Where she paid homage to the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Michael Jackson.
Lemonade visual album – in which she recreated images of American wealth and power with black women at the forefront giving us all something to aspire to.
“Beychella” was another direct example of black culture on full display. The music. The style. The marching bands. The black college experience. All of it is uniquely ours and to see it on display at the biggest music festival in the world is something special in and of itself.
From incorporating Black southern classics like Juvenile and Pimp C to performing a powerful rendition of the black national anthem (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing), all this comes together to cement this performance into Coachella history. Not only because she was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella (mind boggling), but also because she transformed a historically white and corporate festival into an HBCU homecoming.