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Beyoncé’s Homecoming: An Ode to the HBCU Experience
by Jaleesa Diaz
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April 19, 2019

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7 Minute Read

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Beyoncé’s Homecoming: An Ode to the HBCU Experience

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

credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Beyoncé released her highly anticipated Homecoming documentary on Netflix. Executive produced, directed and written by Beyoncé, Homecoming eloquently pieces together the many components of her 2018 Coachella performance.

The film is much more than a documentary. It is a love letter to Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), a Homecoming celebration that instills a sense of pride in Black culture and tradition.

“I always dreamed of going to an HBCU.” —Beyoncé

credit: Netflix

As an HBCU graduate and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Homecoming meant everything to me. The film was reminiscent of my distinguished college experience.

In 2008, my life changed when I was accepted into Spelman College. Spelman was the only college that I applied to. As a first-generation college student from the South Bronx, my guidance counselors weren’t too thrilled about my approach. They pleaded with my parents, insisting that Spelman was not easy to get accepted into and every student needed a backup plan.

For me, it was simple. There was no other campus in the world that could provide a safe space for me to develop into the woman that I needed and wanted to become. Spelman was the foundation that shaped me into the growing woman that I am today. I am PROUD to be a Spelman woman.

“So many people who are culturally aware and intellectually sound are graduates of HBCUs, including my father. There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.” —Beyoncé

Attending an HBCU provides an environment where Black men and women can support and learn from each other — and be free. Many mistakenly critique HBCU experiences, claiming they do not offer “real experiences” that reflect the world. I dispute those sentiments.

Attending an HBCU provided me with a secure sense of self and pride in my blackness. I am confident in any room. More importantly, I never feel the need to mask my blackness to fit in, because I’ve never been forced to do so.

My blackness is not something that I am ashamed of, and it is because of my HBCU experience that I am able to walk into a room as the only Black woman and have the wherewithal to challenge the room and bring others along with me. The HBCU experience offers a responsibility and sense of solidarity.

credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It is that sense of pride and celebration that Beyoncé attempted to capture with Homecoming, and it was remarkable. From the band to the dancers to the music selections to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – it was clear – Beyoncé did her research.

Throughout the film, paraphernalia from various HBCU institutions was displayed. Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College Hampton University, etc. Beyoncé was intentional about using her platform for Black men and women to serve as a reminder of our beloved history and culture that should be celebrated every day, and we are grateful.

“As a Black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box and Black women often feel underestimated…I wanted us to be proud of the struggle…thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history.” —Beyoncé

The journey to Coachella was not an easy process for Beyoncé, which was evident throughout the documentary. After a complicated birth with twins Rumi and Sir, Beyoncé trained and challenged her body vehemently to prepare for her performance. Throughout the documentary, fans are able to get glimpses of her struggle during rehearsals, as Jay-Z and Blue Ivy watch in admiration.

credit: Netflix

A standout moment is when Beyoncé, with Jay by her side, lectures her team about all of the work that needs to be done to execute the performance properly. She is assertive and challenges them. Jay looks at her with a sense of respect and admiration and never chimes in.

A true partner and testament to the strength that Beyoncé carries as an independent woman. Yes. She is a wife and mother, but she is also living her purpose, and she is allowing us to see that though the journey is not easy — it is worth it.

“I feel we made something that made my daughter proud, made my mother proud, my father proud and all of the equals that are my brothers and sisters around the world…..that sparks vision in people…that shows them to dream big. If my country ass can do it. They can do it.”

courtesy image

Beyoncé is an inspiration. She works hard. She exemplifies grace and integrity and does it all while uplifting people and taking pride in her blackness. With Homecoming, she reaffirms her position as the greatest entertainer of our generation and one of the greatest to ever do it.

Homecoming is available now on Netflix. Homecoming: Live Album is available across all streaming platforms. I am inspired. I am motivated. I am proud. I will revisit this documentary over and over again.

Thank you, Beyoncé.

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