‘Homecoming’: How Beyonce Brings African American History Into the Present With Her Netflix Film

‘Homecoming’: How Beyonce Brings African American History Into the Present With Her Netflix Film
Beyoncé opens the Netflix portrait of her Coachella performance with a telling statement in voiceover: “When I decided to do Coachella, it was more important that I brought our history and culture to Coachella,” she says at the beginning of her Netflix special, “Homecoming,” which was released Wednesday alongside a 40-track live album. The ensuing documentary works overtime to reflect that claim, and helps elucidate her profound mission.

The 137-minute concert film weaves in quotes — both written and spoken — that function almost like chapter headings. Each of them comes from a black cultural luminary, some living, and others dead; many of them are alumni of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). For Beyoncé — who rarely tells the world what she thinks in any medium beyond her music — these citations likely serve as lessons from, and reverence for, African American elders, as she takes steps to ensure the preservation of African
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