Beyoncé dropped a two-for-one treat in celebration of Juneteenth and all Black everything when she released a single, “Black Parade,” and debuted an initiative of the same name that’s promoting Black businesses.
The “Freedom” singer dropped the surprise track on Freedom Day, June 19, and gave fans a much-needed new bop in celebration of Blackness and all the strength and beauty it possesses.
She opens the song with plenty of references to the Motherland such as to Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of purity, love, and fertility; the baobab tree, which is native to Africa; and the Ankh, an Egyptian hieroglyph that symbolizes life and fertility. “I’m goin’ back to the South/ I’m goin’ back, back, back, back/ Where my roots ain’t watered down/ Growin’, growin’ like a Baobab tree/ Of life on fertile ground, ancestors put me on game/ Ankh charm on gold chains, with my Oshun energy, oh.”
Throughout the single, Bey references the beauty of Black resilience including during the current racially tense climate that has resulted from instances of police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more. “Rubber bullets bouncin’ off me (Ah)/ Made a picket sign off your picket fence (Ah)/ Take it as a warning (Ah, ah).”
The song was co-produced by her “Lemonade” collaborator and Emmy-nominated music director Derek Dixie, who also helped bring to life the experience that was Beychella.
“Once she honed in on the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) idea … it was a machine after that. It was just months and months of prep work, making it sound authentic,” he told the Associated Press about the iconic Coachella performance. “She has tons and tons of classic records that when putting the show together, you have to maintain the classic feel of the record but make it feel like you’re in a stadium at homecoming.”
Bey’s husband, Jay Z, also reportedly co-wrote the anthem, along with others.
Beyoncé also released details of her Black Parade Route initiative when she shared news of the song on social media, saying ” ‘Black Parade’ celebrates you, your voice, and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses.”
According to her website, “Black Parade” benefits BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses in need.”
The site is a directory of Black-owned businesses that fall under a multitude of categories including arts & design, beauty, fashion, home & living, lifestyle, restaurants & bars, services, wellness & health. Queen Bey credits the curation of the businesses featured to wardrobe curator and costume designer Zerina Akers. Akers has been her personal stylist since 2014 and is founder of the business directory website Black Owned Everything.
She is credited with helping Bey incorporate more African designers and African-inspired looks into her wardrobe and is responsible for some of the Queen’s most iconic looks, including her all-black “Formation” ensemble and the beaded-and-shelled ensemble from her “Spirit” video.