Breaking down every reference to Black culture in Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé


Beyoncé’s Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé was a celebration of Black culture. The show exposed the mainstream to unknown parts of Black culture.

Beyoncé’s Netflix concert documentary, Homecoming: A film by Beyoncé, features live footage from her concert at Coachella 2018, with behind-the-scenes looks into the process of creating the show as well.

The Netflix documentary dropped early morning on Wednesday, and our Queen took care of us well by also offering a companion album to the film, Homecoming: The Live Album.

Since Beyoncé is the first Black woman to headline Coachella, she took this as an opportunity to pay homage to Black culture. Queen Bey and her teams worked sleepless days, pushing their limits to create an experience for Black people to feel seen and proud. Beyoncé mentioned in the film that every little detail was examined and tweaked to reach the feeling and effect she was going for.

It shows because there were many moments in the show that were specifically put there to spark joy for Beyonce’s Black fans; we’re breaking down exactly what those moments were and what they mean.

The theme

The theme of “Beychella,” DJ Khalid’s loving nickname for her Coachella performance, comes from Beyoncé’s love of marching band culture seen specifically at historically Black college and universities (HBCUs). She mentioned looking forward to Battle of the Bands every year when she was growing up.

The show began with a female drum major in full marching band gear, with a fierce face, pounding on the drums. Once she blew her whistle with so much swag, she moved to the side to reveal a line of female dancers wearing King Tut pantsuits with one pant leg and a black beret, twirling around to the side to reveal our queen.

INDIO, CA – APRIL 14: Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )


Beyoncé literally dressed like a queen during this iconic performance. She wore a cape with her name stitched in black and gold, along with Queen Nefertiti’s bust. When Beyoncé turned around, you could see she was wearing Nefertiti style headdress. She moved with grace as if on a catwalk, with a little swoosh and attitude, alongside the drums and horns that punctuated her entrance.

Queen Nefertiti, known as being one of the most beautiful women in the world, is important to Black culture because she’s a symbol of beauty and empowerment. This is important since Hollywood is known for whitewashing ancient Egypt.

As for Beyoncé’s band-inspired outfits, capes on drum majors and striking dance suits for women are the usual uniform for HBCU bands. Drums and horns are the main instruments, helping the audience dance along. As for the berets worn at times during the performance, they pay tribute to the Black Panthers (Beyoncé paid a similar tribute to them during her Super Bowl 50 performance).

Other popular elements that Beyoncé incorporated from HBCU band culture included the Bug-a-Boo line. This comes from the tradition of Black fraternities, introducing themselves through stepping and announcing their line name. What made Beyoncé’s line different was that it represented the fictional BΔK fraternity, made up Greek letters that were emblazoned on every performer’s sweatshirt to really give the feel that the audience was actually at an HBCU homecoming. Each Bug-a-Boo gave themselves names based on a Beyoncé song.

The Black national anthem

One of the most moving parts of the doc is when Beyonce broke from singing her song “Freedom,” to sing the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The song was composed and written by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson in 1900 to honor President Abraham Lincoln for essentially freeing the slaves. James Weldon Johnson was also the first African American to pass the bar exam in Florida, and he served as the NAACP executive secretary for 10 years.

The voices of a generation

The documentary is also sprinkled with quotes and voiceovers from important Black figures like W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman, Cornel West, and Maya Angelou.

The figure whose values were present throughout Beyoncé’s film the most was Nina Simone. Nina Simone is famous for songs like “Mississippi G*ddamn,” “Young, Gifted, and Black,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and more. She was known for being a huge advocate for Black rights during the Civil Rights movement. Simone used her music to express her anger; she spoke for people who had the same history and experiences as she did. Her quote from an interview is used as a voiceover in the documentary. It basically sums up Beyonce’s mission for this concert.

Simone says her 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 to bring it out.”

Beyoncé wouldn’t have been able to create Black-centric work if it wasn’t for artists before her like Nina Simone.

Linking an entire culture through music and family

Beychella isn’t Beyoncé’s first love letter to Blackness. Her video album, Lemonade, incorporated many elements of southern Black culture. But even before Lemonade, Beyoncé has created R&B-style music that didn’t always attract the mainstream but had her Black audience eager to listen.

The crowd went crazy when Beyoncé played these type of songs, like “Love on Top,” Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier,” and “Check On It.”

Beyoncé even called her sister, Solange, on stage to dance along to “Get Me Bodied.” The joy and energy between the two sisters dancing are reminiscent of every Black girl who grew up dancing along to the song with her own sisters or best friend.

Her bringing Solange and Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland is a testament to Black sistership, and something that only Beyoncé could help to uplift and put into the public spotlight.

HOMECOMING: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ – PRODUCTION STILLS – 005. Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment.

Uplifting a community

Beyoncé is everyone’s queen, but she saw the importance of uplifting the community that has been with her since her early Destiny’s Child days. She introduced parts of Black culture that mainstream audiences may not have been aware of, which made the performance special.

Her quote at the end of the film talked about the importance of celebrating HBCUs:

"So many people who are culturally aware and intellectually sound are graduates of historically Black colleges and universities, including my father. There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected."

After watching the documentary, you will feel the love everyone put into the show. Homecoming was the perfect piece of Black art that this generation of Black people didn’t know they needed.

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What was your favorite part of Beyoncé’s Homecoming performance? Let us know in the comments.