Following the death of George Floyd – and the sparking of a mass call-to-action to support, protect, seek justice and stand up for Black lives – Beyoncé has demonstrated her commitment the movement in a multitude of ways.
After a direct video message to her followers and pleas for fans to sign petitions and support open letters for justice for Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who also died during a police incident, Beyoncé has marked Juneteenth – the historical day when the last slaves in the US were emancipated – by releasing a new track entitled ‘Black Parade’.
On her website, the singer announced that the song would support her charity’s Black Business Impact Fund. Accompanying the song’s release, the mother of three also published a directory of Black-owned businesses which fans can visit and support.
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‘Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right,’ the singer wrote to her Black fans in a personal message on the website.
This appreciation, acknowledgement and celebration of Blackness through music is not new for Beyoncé. In 2016, she released ‘Formation’ – a celebration of her Blackness and heritage which she performed at the Super Bowl with dancers in Black Panther-inspired outfits. The album Lemonade also featured ‘Freedom’ with Kendrick Lamar – which they performed in a rousing routine at the BET awards in 2016. In the early days of her career, there were lyrics to uplift and celebrate Black Women too, like 2006’s ‘Get Me Bodied’ which encourages fans to ‘pat your weave’ and do the ‘Naomi Campbell walk’.
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Here are historical and cultural references in Beyoncé’s ‘Black Parade’:
I’m goin’ back to the South. I’m goin’ back, back, back, back. Where my roots ain’t watered down. Growin’, growin’ like a Baobab tree
Beyoncé’s ‘South’ is a reference to her home state of Texas. The singer was born and grew up in Houston. Texas is also where the Juneteenth celebrations started, now they are marked throughout the US.
The iconic ‘Baobab tree’ is native to Africa and therefore grow despite the warm and dry conditions in the continent (hence the ‘roots ain’t watered down’ reference which is also used to describe the Black history and continued culture of the deep South).
Ankh charm on gold chains, with my Oshun energy, Drip all on me, woo, Ankh or the Dashiki print
Beyoncé pays further homage to her ancestors from Africa by referencing the ‘Ankh’ which is a symbol deriving from Ancient Egypt, ‘Oshun’ – the Nigerian Yoruba goddess of femininity, love, sensuality and fertility (who Beyoncé has previously paid tribute to in the ‘Hold Up’ video and her…
Read More: Beyonce Black Parade Lyrics Explained