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Beyoncé’s ‘Homecoming’ is a Love Letter to HBCUs and Black Culture

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Beyoncé Knowles-Carter fans missed some sleep waiting for the release of the documentary “Homecoming” at 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday, and #BeyoncéHomecoming continues to trend on Twitter. Not only was the film released on Netflix, but Queen Bey surprised her fans by announcing a live album of the same name.   

Beyoncé stars in the just over two-hour documentary. She is also the executive producer and director. The film is more than just a behind-the-scenes look at her 2018 Coachella performance, but a love letter to the Black community and her family.   

Toward the beginning of the film, you hear the recorded words of the late soul icon Nina Simone.    

“To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, Black people,” Simone said in her eloquent voice. 

“My job is to somehow make them curious enough or persuade them, by hook or crook, to get more aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there, and just to bring it out. This is what compels me to compel them and I will do it by whatever means necessary.”  

That is indeed the theme of “Homecoming,” especially since Beyoncé is the first Black woman to headline Coachella, the annual music and arts festival held in Indio, Calif. 

“It’s hard to believe that, after all these years, I was the first African-American woman to headline Coachella,” Queen Bey says in the documentary.  

She adds, “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”  

Beyoncé’s show is filled with high-energy, spectacular performances that illustrate why she is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. It is a tribute to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which were a part of her upbringing.  

“I grew up in Houston, Texas, visiting Prairie View,” she explains. “We rehearsed at TSU for many years in third ward. And I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny’s Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.”  

For the show, Beyoncé personally selected every dancer and “every tiny detail had an intention.” At times, there are over 200 people on the stage.   

There is a drumline representing colleges including Southern University, Jackson State University, Alabama A&M University, Grambling State University, Florida A&M University, North Carolina A&T University, Hampton University and Albany State University.   

Black fraternities and sororities are also celebrated from the outfits to step performances.   

“I wanted a Black orchestra,” Beyoncé explains. “I wanted the steppers. I needed the vocalists. I wanted different characters and didn’t want them all doing the same thing.”  

She kept the audience in mind.  

“I wanted every person that has ever been dismissed because of the way they look to feel like they were on that stage.” 
 

‘Black women often feel underestimated’  

Beyoncé expresses in the film that the process of creating the show was just as important as the show itself.   

“As a Black woman, I felt like the world wanted me to stay in my little box, and Black women often feel underestimated,” she says. “I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process. Proud of the struggle, thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history, and rejoice in the pain and the imperfections, wrongs that are so damn right.   

“I wanted everyone to feel grateful for their curves, their sass, their honesty. Thankful for their freedom. We were able to create a free, safe space where none of us were marginalized.”  

Motherhood  

Beyoncé and her husband, music mogul, Jay-Z, are the parents of 7-year-old Blue Ivy and 1-year-old twins, Sir and Rumi. In the documentary, she shares portions of family videos.  

She talks about her “extremely difficult pregnancy” with the twins resulting in an emergency C-section.  

Beyoncé also revealed that she weighed 218 pounds the day she gave birth.   

“There were days I thought I’d never be the same,” she says. “I’d never be the same physically. My strength and endurance would never be the same.”  

To prepare for Coachella, she worked out and was on a restricted diet leaving her hungry most of the time.   

“I definitely pushed myself further than I knew I could,” she says. “I learned a very valuable lesson. I will never, never push myself that far again.”  

But motherhood is special to her.  

“I feel like I’m a new woman in a new chapter of my life,” Beyoncé says. “I’m not trying to be who I was. It’s so beautiful that children do that to you.”  

“Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” is now available on Netflix.   

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