So, I’m a mover. A writer to be exact. It’s taken awhile for me to claim that part of me, even though it’s been there since I could remember. Between Solange’s album and Beyoncé’s documentary, I have been able to find the words to manifest what I’ve always dreamed of; being all of myself. No more hiding behind my own doubts and negative thinking about my potential. I had arrived and there wasn’t any intention on turning back now. The questions that were yet to be answered were, what was I to do with this new energy that I had found? Where was my focus supposed to be from here? What were my words going to be responsible for and with what platform? I was ready for my voice to be heard, however the exact words needed were still being formulated. Acknowledging my starting point was by far the bravest things I’ve done for myself. I was admitting my readiness.
Rewind to the birthday weekend-
Remember the entrancing night at the club that I mentioned in the 2nd Solange article? Well there was also something else that happened that night that made my heart smile. I didn’t have the time or the right words to express how I felt in that moment, but it lingered with me day after day, an eerie suspense building. Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary came along and helped put an end to the search. My birthday weekend was made up of numerous small moments of bonding between this amazing group of women I get to call my friends and oh, how I wish I had the time to tell you about each one of them. For time sake, I’ll let you in on a snapshot of one of the moments, that night at the club.
I can’t recall what exact song that was playing at the time, but I know for certain that I’ve heard it at least a couple hundred times. Drinks were flowing but that’s not the reason why the music was so hazy. Once the beat started, my eyes darted towards 2 of my friends on the dance floor. They jumped up from their seats without hesitation and I immediately knew what formation was taking place. There may be other terms or phrases for it, but I’ve heard it referenced as either, “party-walking” or “strolling”. What a fascinating scene to watch for me as I fall in love with it every time and with my experience at attending an HBCU, I was grateful to have witnessed this on a larger scale.
One of my favorite things about watching people of the Black Greek community come together in this way, is how it commands the attention of the room for those few minutes. Without a doubt, each time there are unexpected connections made with someone else in the room; this time with it being my Best friend Cierra as she parted the dance floor, joining the two others. Here were my friends meeting for the very first time and just like that, one song bringing them together with harmony, without skipping a beat.
It was a feeling of building this beautiful bond with people-good people, rapidly with love and humbleness. I’ve always admired that about the Devine Nine Greek life and more importantly, understood about its purpose without ever being directly attached to it. I know that Black Greek organizations aren’t exclusive to Historically Black Colleges, but it does convey to me a feeling of extension and connectedness when I see people in those organization at other schools. What I will also say is, there is nothing quite like experiencing any Black organization flourishing on a Black campus. That’s what Beyoncé gave to us with ‘Homecoming’. It’s also what I like to share with you as I relive a piece of my HBCU experience from my years attending Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Beyoncé-Party (Homecoming Live Album)
I am grateful to enjoy a live Black marching band every chance I get as it brings back so many good memories. I had always found them to be the best part of any event I was attending, anticipating a “time out” to get a small dose of what was to come at halftime. The difference here was that this wasn’t just 1 min bursts of energy to keep the crowd engaged, they were part of the main event and highlighted in the respect that they earned and very much deserved. Feeling and watching the synchrony between each individual, the stomps begin to count you in. Once again, I began to drift back to my short, influential time I spent in the Band at Cheyney University. A beginner saxophone player being welcomed to this family with open arms, a true team with a family bond. It always felt like a party, a celebration of each day ahead of us with every practice. Seeing this profound band in the documentary brought on deep feelings of love, laughter and more than anything pride.
Beyoncé-I Care (Homecoming Live Album)
During this part of the performance, the camera angles called to me the most. Your attention is claimed by zebra patterned suits and smooth intentional movements. Forces you to pause and reflect on the visuals and the woeful words of the song from Beyoncé’s lips. Those words slipped through my ears, leaving bits of itself to magnify this subtle feeling that was rising. I cared about so much and my alma mater was top of mind during this show. Founded in 1837, Cheyney University will remain in many hearts of those that attended and now was the time to declare our love openly as a reminder to ourselves and to the world that we can and will excel year after year. I’ve moved away from the East coast 5 years ago, but I still care. I’ve been unable to return for homecoming for a few years now, but I still care. The ability to give back as much as needed or as I have wanted to have been challenging but please know for certain, I still care. There was hope in the harmony to do more, to be present, to love and appreciate my college home the way it deserved.
Beyoncé-Bzzzz Drumline (Homecoming Live Album)
I love the complete focus on the band, showcasing all the unique elements and layers of different styles of dancers, various instruments, talents and the pop of colors across the stage. This moment exemplified the power that live music has for me. Black bands don’t come to perform as background noise, they know the responsibility they hold as the vibe in the room is generated by them and gifted to the crowd with every key played. Beyoncé’s song “Ego” seemed to be strategic as it embodied the attitude of this excellent band, talking about showing off. As if it couldn’t get any better, between the deep breathing of the horns, you hear the group bringing their voices together with, “WE READY!”. From the start of the show we were gradually charged with nostalgic energy, bumping into our higher selves as we connected with memories. On the edge of my seat, I belted along, affirming this new life I was creating. I was ready and not unlike the band, I was placed here to encourage the engagement and movement of others.
The visual of the pyramid and the fluidity of this impression group of performers gave me wonderous ideas for where my purpose was leading me. I was certain that I wanted to be surrounded by those who are living and/or actively seeking their own personal greatness. I needed it, more now than ever. There was an alluring energy leading to a light of positivity, shining effervescently. Beyoncé unlocked something so unique and amazing. She found a way to transfer the essence of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the rest of the world. It didn’t just feel like a memory of my late teen/early twenties anymore. It gave me permission to experience and express Black culture past my college days, reveling in what life was giving me now. It became clear that my writing would have focus on anything and anyone that felt like home. A feeling that will never get old.
Written by Michelle HIll
Join us next week for the next artist appreciation post: Megan Thee Stallion