A year after she delivered a Coachella performance so epic the whole 2018 festival was given the moniker “Beychella,” Netflix dropped Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé.
For the past year, only bootlegs of the performance existed, but the Beyoncé-directed concert doc, which gloriously melds together both of her Coachella weekend sets, finally brings us all to the pyramid-shaped stage that was so iconic festival organizers displayed it again this year. (Yes, Beyoncé is such an icon that her stage, without her on it, is worth a visit.)
Beychella celebrated America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and the annual homecoming that brings alumni back to them each fall, filling the streets with beautiful, smart, black people. It’s a week of football games, marching bands, and step-dancing routines so intricate that they rival any choreography on Broadway.
Black sororities and fraternities proudly wear their colours and do dance routines that go back to the early 1900s. In the film, Beyoncé talks about growing up in the shadow of Prairie View A & M University in Texas (established in 1876, just 13 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, it is one of the nation’s oldest HBCUs) and about seeing Coachella as her own homecoming to the stage after the difficult birth of her twins.
Howard’s homecoming website describes the event as “that intense excitement and happiness you get when you come home and reconnect. It’s Black love. It’s steeped in excellence, truth and service.” That description is as apt as any for what Beyoncé’s Coachella performance and Homecoming documentary are about as well. But for me, Homecoming was not just a tribute to the world of HBCUs and black love and excellence, it is a tribute to something I’ve come to consider and appreciate deeply: the education of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Read more