Beyonce’s ‘Black Parade’: An Ode to Black Pride, Love and Unity

Adama Juldeh Munu
5 min readAug 6


“We got rhythm, we got pride, we birth kings, we birth tribes”

Beyonce Knowles-Carter’s ‘Black Parade’ is pretty much Formation 2.0

It’s a celebration of black unity, progress and heritage, with a few lines slipped in to remind folks that she still slays as ‘Queen’.

The merit of the song is her call for all Black folk to join ‘her parade’, the obvious catch of course is we’re all under lockdown in some fashion. But she draws upon the ongoing demonstrations for Black lives, which are themselves parades of protests and power.

“Pandemic fly on the runway in my hazmat”

Parades and masquerades like Mardi Gras in places like New Orleans are important epithets of Southern and Black Creole culture and were prominent throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. For example, the Zulu Parade of New Orlean’s black, middle-class elite established in 1909 was in response to stereotypes of black people as ‘savages’.

The use of the term parade here could be considered a metaphor, used to represent a stream of social, economic and physical black empowerment through powerful symbolism and imagery.

The new track dropped on the internet after the ‘Formation’ singer announced an initiative called “Black Parade’ to support black-owned businesses this Juneteenth weekend. There is a 5-minute extended version exclusively on TIDAL.

On Instagram, Beyonce wrote: “Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power.

“BLACK PARADE” celebrates you, your voice and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses”.

An entrepreneur herself, Beyonce doesn’t shy from championing female economic empowerment and has been vocal in her support for black educational attainment and progress through initiatives such as BEYGOOD and the Formation scholarship- a grant fund for college-bound black students going to HBCUs.

In recent years, there’s been a renewed interest in black economic empowerment and support for black-owned businesses to buffer the impact of racist and white supremacist infrastructures. In the US, this can be traced back to historically black towns such as Tulsa and Rosewood which were burned to the ground almost a century ago.

There is also a renewed interest in time-honoured African financial instruments such as sou sou which is popular among continental African and African-Caribbean communities. And as always she dignifies the memories of African empires and kings such as Mandinka Mansa Musa, the latter she’s done for the second time round. Her first time was in her song ‘Mood 4 Eva’ for the Lion King tribute album last summer.

Four hunnid billi’, Mansu Musa

Our Black creatives- the small and big timers- receive a special mention

“Drip all on me, woo, Ankh or the Dashiki print”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m for us, all black

All chrome, black owned, black tints (Yeah), matte black (Yeah, yeah)”

“Waste beads from Yoruba”

“Judgin’, runnin’ through the house to my art, all black”

Beyonce never shies away from expressing love for her Southern roots and by extension her African heritage in her songs, and it’s pretty much splattered throughout the song’.

“I’m goin’ back to the South, I’m goin’ back, back, back, back” (* back to Africa)

“Where my roots ain’t watered down, growin’, growin’, like a baobab tree”

“All fly, above of the ground, ancestors put me on game”

“Motherland drip on me, motherland, motherland drip on me”

“We got rhythm, we got pride, we birth kings, we birth tribes”

The significance of the timing of this song, wouldn’t be lost on anyone paying attention. This Friday and this weekend by extension, marked Juneteenth, a commemoration of the emancipation of the last group of enslaved African-Americans in Texas, Galveston. Though Juneteenth is not a national holiday, it has grown to become more prominent in the Black community. It’s why the following lyric hits and shows her support for greater calls for reparations for people of enslaved Africans. Although it could also be interpreted as a call for global reparations for people of African descent.

“Need peace and reparation for my people”

The song also pays homage to the recent protests against racism and police brutality in the United States, in the wake of the deaths of African-American citizens such as Ahmaud Arberry, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks.

The following lyrics evoke a beautiful yet haunting imagery of the recent funeral of Floyd and the powerful speeches that we have seen go viral in the wake of this from the likes of activist Tamika Mallory, who receives particular mention.

“Hold my hands, we gon’ pray together

Lay down, face down in the gravel

Woo, wearin’ all attire white to the funeral

Black love, we gon’ stay together

Curtis Mayfield on the speaker

Lil’ Malcolm, I miss ’em, Mama Tina

Need another march, lemme call Tamika”

I wonder if this for all the Karens and Sammys out there. Go figure.

“Talkin’ slick to my folk”

Just like her song, ‘Brown Skin Girl’, Beyonce recognises that part of black empowerment comes through self-preservation and black love. One of the highest manifestations of this is through how black people see themselves. Black beauty, natural hair and Afro-centric hairstyles have made a comeback in Beyonce’s wax lyrical. You love to see it:

F*** these laid edges, I’ma let it shrivel up (Shrivel up)

F*** this fade and waves I’ma let it dread all up (Dread it all up)

Put your fists up in the air, show black love (Show black love

One can only wish there were visuals to match this power-filled and celebratory lyrics, to follow in the footsteps of some of her most iconic songs in recent years such as ‘Formation’ and Apes****’.

All the same, it’s the beautiful Black anthem we need for 2020.



Adama Juldeh Munu

Journalist with an affinity for all things ‘African Diaspora’ and Islam. You can @ me via or twitter/@adamajmunu