Listen, I am in awe of Beyonce’s performance at Coachella. Whether you are a member of the Beyhive or not, you have to admit that her performance was iconic. I think it is extremely important to understand why this performance was important for the culture. As I mentioned in a previous post, representation matters, and Beyonce definitely represented us well. Here are three reasons why this performance was phenomenal!
- She Promoted HBCU’s. The performance promoted elements unique to HBCU (“Historically Black Colleges and Universities”) culture. HBCU’s are largely under-represented in popular culture and usually not celebrated. This is especially sad considering that HBCU’s were safe havens and oftentimes the only place Black Americans were afforded an opportunity to be educated in this country prior to desegregation. HBCU’s still provide an excellent education and countless resources to their students. HBCU’s offer more than a great party and the BEST Homecoming experience ever. What’s more, many Black professionals in this country were educated at HBCU’s. What made this performance at Coachella special is the fact that Beyonce had several HBCU alum in her band! One happened to be from my alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
- She sang Lift Every Voice and Sing. While I have known this song since I was a child, I’ve met people old enough to be my parents who were totally unfamiliar with the song. In 1919, Lift Every Voice and Sing became the Negro National Anthem. In law school, we sang the anthem at every Black Law Students Association Scholarship Banquet (that’s when I realized some of my non-melanated counterparts had never heard it before). Beyonce sang a song so familiar to us and through this performance, undoubtedly, introduced it to many.
- She paid homage to Black Greek Letter Organizations. The Greek skit was reminiscent of School Daze, a classic Spike Lee joint. She also incorporated stepping into her choreography. “Stepping” is a tradition in Black Greek Letter Organizations (“BGLOs”). Majority of the BGLO’s were founded in the beginning of the twentieth century to provide support to students on college campuses and the Black Community.
All of the above were birthed out of the need to assist Black Americans in gaining their civil liberties guaranteed them under the Constitution of the United States of America. The performance was not just cute. It was a creative masterpiece that paid homage to aspects of Black American Culture that are not often celebrated or understood by popular culture. Now, there are many more reasons to celebrate this performance, from all the dancers, the twins, costumes, Destiny’s Child reunion, the sister dance routine, the expression of Black love, and the list goes on.
But as an HBCU alumna (shout out to the UAPB Golden Lions) and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., I was very proud of Beyonce’s Coachella performance. I might even go to Homecoming this year! I’m sure I’ll see elements of this performance in somebody’s step show.
Thank you Beyonce.