At 9pm EST, social media went eerily silent. We were listening and watching, mouths open, head in hands, to Beyoncé’s HBO Speical “Lemonade.” The program was a force of visual and musical art, with direction similar to her “Formation” video released in early February.
With each transition came a new message and a powerful a new story, so in case you missed it or just want a recap, here are the most unapologetic and iconic moments from “Lemonade.”
- Appearances from Quevenzhané Wallis, Amandla Stenberg, Chloe and Halle, Serena Williams, Zendaya, Kenitia Coleman, Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Winnie Harlow, Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé’s father), Tina Knowles Lawson (Beyoncé’s mother), and so many more. This visual album was filled with all types of stars and influences in Beyoncé’s life. All of the most popular black women of the day, all of Beyoncé’s family, as well as many other beautiful, black girls contributed, wearing 18th-century clothing in homes on what looked like a plantation. Some of the most influential women of the past two years were able to bring their movement to Beyoncé’s worldwide audience simply by appearing on camera.
- Malcolm X snippets. In 1962, Malcolm X gave a speech in Los Angeles at the funeral of Ronald Stokes who was killed by LAPD. “Lemonade” features the last third of his speech: “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.” The words are spoken over shots of black women of all ages standing in the street, in their front yards, in storefronts. Malcolm X delivered such an incredible set of powerful words that, while they were true in the 60s and still true now, are rarely being preached today.
- Appearances by Sybrina Fulton and Lesley McSpadden, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. They sat in chairs in 18th-century fashions holding portraits of their sons, tears rolling down their faces. Both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were shot and killed while unarmed, and neither of their shooters were indicted. Fulton and McSpadden were also featured in other scenes with the rest of the girls mentioned earlier.
- Black Love. Scenes of black love between couples in the city, between Beyoncé and her father, Blue Ivy and her grandfather, between all of the girls sitting at a table and eating together, and between Mr. and Mrs. Carter. It was like watching everyone’s problems being worked out on the screen. The audience got to watch the memories of each relationship that were made in the past juxtaposed with the same love they have now. It was a celebration of love, freedom, and black beauty.
- Black Girl Magic. Who doesn’t love to see Beyoncé walking through the street in a bright yellow fringe dress and polka-dot heels, swinging a bat in slow motion, getting ready to smash the windows of some unfaithful ex-boyfriend/husband? “If you try this s**t again, you gon’ lose your wife.” “When you play me, you play yourself.” She was not playing, and neither was tennis star Serena Williams, twerking behind Bey in a black leotard and heels. “Lemonade” seamlessly switches back and forth; from profound and eerie to booty shaking and carefree. Did I mention she sang lines from Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On?”
Beyoncé’s new album “Lemonade” is currently only available on Tidal HiFi.