Beyonce Knowles Carter, aka Queen B to her fan base, demanded all eyes on HBCUs during her phenomenal 2018 Coachella performance.
As the first Black woman to headline the annual event, Beyonce strategically incorporated the HBCU band rhythm, emotion, music and overall experience into her two hours on stage. She said she wanted to represent these universities that she always dreamed of attending, but her life of fame has kept that form happening — so far.
She included singers, dancers and musicians from multiple universities includingFAMU, B-CU, Grambling and Jackson State. Given that Coachella is one of the biggest music festivals in the world, Beyonce used this platform to represent HBCUs and bring them to a stage they rarely enjoy.
Now available on Netflix as a film including behind-the-scenes footage and explanations from Beyonce herself, the mesmerizing performance changed the name from Coachella to Beychella.
She has Inspired many artists to involve HBCUs with their platforms. Atlanta rapper Young Thug released his single “Hot” in following her performance. After the release of his full album, Thug created the #HBCUHOTCHALLENGE where multiple HBCU bands competed for the chance to win $25,000. FAMU won the challenge and earned recognition via social media as a result.
The Shaderoom Instagram page also participated in promoting HBCUs and began posting viral tweets that share the experience these students face like waiting on financial aid, fried chicken Wednesday, and especially the football games.
Rapper Travis Scott posted via Twitter earlier this month that he wanted to help five students pay for their first semester at an HBCU. While most of his fans are likely to attend PWIs, Scott mentioned that his parents attended Grambling and Prairie Valley to justify his offer.
The most recent event that took place showcasing the HBCU experience was BET’s HBCU Homecoming 2020 special. With complaints about the lack of effort and preparation spotted throughout their Twitter hashtag, this event still illuminated these universities along with those that are not as widely known like South Carolina State and Mississippi Valley University.
While neither of these individuals or organizations acknowledged Beyonce’s monumental performance and the subsequent Netflix film, it’s obvious that she represents the first domino. Had it not been for her unforgettable performance that was viewed worldwide, FAMU and other HBCUs would still be invisible to those who never attended then — and these platforms wouldn’t receive as many views.
Prior to those nights at Beychella, HBCUs were barely shown in a positive light and were often overlooked. Since then application and enrollment numbers have increased along with donations from alumni and celebrities.
It’s great to enjoy and partake in the HBCU hype but let’s not forget who started the legacy: Beyonce, aka The Greatest of All Time