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Beyoncé's badass Coachella performance honored HBCUs in a really dope way.

Do you want a college experience filled with dope music, black culture, and Beyoncé as the dean of all that is black excellence?

You should sign up for Beyoncé University.  

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella.


We got to take a class during this year's Coachella festival. The incredible singer and performer, also known as "Queen Bey," became the first black woman to headline a Coachella music festival. Naturally, her life performance oozed with pure, unparalleled black excellence. And the internet audience? Well, they were pretty damn floored.  

Between the incredible vocals, remarkable costumes, and dance moves that would've made the King of Pop jealous, her performance illustrates the epitome of hard work and perfection that she is. But even beyond the theatrics, the entire root of Beyoncé’s performance was based in a powerful central part of black culture.      

Beyoncé used her concert performance to pay homage to historically black colleges and universities, a staple of black culture and education.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella.

We knew Beyoncé wasn’t playing around when she kicked off her performance with "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the black national anthem written by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. But audiences were in awe at an entire set and musical foundation dedicated to the music and culture of HBCUs.

In theory, HBCUs were really one of the first "safe spaces" for black people to be educated. Established after the Civil War, HBCUs began popping up largely in the South when predominantly white institutions impeded black students from enrolling in their institutions. Black academics and scholars like Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune helped establish these institutions so black students could safely pursue higher education and obtain the resulting possible opportunities.    

In these HBCUs, black culture continued to develop and flourish. Sororities and fraternities like Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Phi Alpha were developed to support black women and men, and marching bands, dancing crews, and Greek life step shows became a core cultural staple at football games, dances, and other recreational events.    

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella.

With budget cuts and systematic racism, HBCUs have struggled with funding, enrollment, and other challenges to keep the institution and culture alive. But, HBCUs still matter. As black students look toward educational communities that are both safe and empowering, the HBCU structure is more culturally relevant than ever. Beyoncé's visible used of black women dancers, HBCU marching bands, and an adorable play of (safe) Greek hazing was heartwarming and empowering for black communities around the country.

My parents were educated at an HBCU, and marching bands were as much a part of my life as American football. But, it was always in the confines of predominantly black spaces. Beyoncé’s performance — in front of a largely white crowd — was about as rich and authentic as it gets. The fact that it was broadcast for the world to see was awesome, and a great example of how important cultural pride can be.

If Bey University is anything like Beyoncé's show, where do we sign up?

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Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

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There's so much good out there if you know where to look.

Canva

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There is an anecdote to all of that, though: Curating and cultivating the good. Sometimes it's just knowing where to look to find examples of problems being solved, discoveries being made, innovation taking huge leaps and other evidence that humans are moving our collective life forward in incredible ways.

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