Beyoncé’s Netflix documentary Homecoming is much more than a film about the first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival.
It is a celebration of black American culture with education, specifically Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), serving as the foundation of her message.
In the film, Beyoncé describes how she always wanted to attend an HBCU, but Destiny’s Child and the trials and tribulations of celebrity instead became her higher education.
“She did not attend an HBCU, but she has learned from and mimicked the culture that’s present at HBCUs,” said Dawn Williams, the Dean of Howard University’s School of Education.
“[Beyoncé’s] naming the film Homecoming is quite illustrative of what it feels like. I saw examples of what we experience here at homecoming. Homecoming is not just for alumni, or returning students. It is a community event. You’ll find a multitude of many different kinds of people there”.
Throughout Homecoming, Beyoncé included quotes and audio from black leaders and intellectuals, and I greatly appreciated the quote she used from W.E.B. Du Bois: “Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.”
This quote was radical and empowering over 100 years ago, and for better or worse it still leaves a lasting impact today. The quote is from Du Bois’ “Talented Tenth” essay in 1903 that both articulated his vision of higher education for black people, and served as a stern rebuke to his rival Booker T Washington who advocated for blacks to prioritise industrial and agrarian training.
Check Netflix for the series