All The Quotes In ‘Homecoming’ Show Beyonce’s Commitment To Recognizing Great Black Thinkers
In her new Netflix concert documentary, Homecoming, Beyoncé offers the Beyhive an intimate — and rare — look into the process that went into creating her history-making headlining performance at 2018's Coachella Music Festival. Viewers are granted access into Beyoncé's masterful world of creativity, which includes the many muses that inform her art. Throughout Homecoming, quotes from prominent Black figures appear or can be heard onscreen. And like everything Beyoncé does, they are deliberate and meaningful.
The passages range in theme, from poetic advice to statements about the importance of higher education to go along with the performance's theme of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs. As much as they vary, though, the quotes that appear throughout Homecoming send a clear and singular message, which is the importance of honoring the Black thinkers and leaders who have written and spoken about the boundless potential of their communities.
Beyoncé's film takes Black excellence to a new level, as basically everyone on Twitter agrees, but she also makes it clear that there's a whole history of Black excellence from which she draws. Once you learn about where each of these Homecoming quotes come from, it'll be impossible not to feel inspired all over again.
1. "If You Surrender To The Air, You Can Ride It" — Toni Morrison
The first quote that appears on a card in Homecoming is attributed to Morrison along with the words "Howard University 1953," which recognizes the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's HBCU alma mater. Morrison graduated from Howard in 1953, according to Time, and the quote itself comes from her novel Song of Solomon, which was published in 1977.
2. "To Me We Are The Most Beautiful Creatures In The Whole World, Black People. And I Mean That In Every Sense." — Nina Simone
The quote that you hear legendary jazz singer/pianist Nina Simone recite in Homecoming has circulated widely in the video from above, but it's not clear where it originated. In her answer to an interview question, Simone passionately speaks about the importance among Black communities to learn about their culture and history.
3. "Education Must Not Simply Teach Work — It Must Teach Life" —W.E.B. DuBois
The civil rights activist graduated from the HBCU Fisk University, before going on to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
The DuBois quote used in Homecoming comes from the scholar's 1903 article "The Talented Tenth," which was published in a book edited by Booker T. Washington called The Negro Problem. In "The Talented Tenth," DuBois argued for African American people's right to pursue higher education.
4. "Our Mothers And Grandmothers... Moving To Music Not Yet Written" — Alice Walker
Alice Walker, who graduated from Spelman College in 1965, wrote these words in a 1983 collection of prose called In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens. The next line in the text is, "And they waited," in an essay that meditates on feminism and Walker's identity as a Black woman.
5. "You Can’t Be What You Can’t See" — Marian Wright Edelman
Homecoming notes that Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, graduated from Spelman College in 1959. She said this quote in Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s 2011 documentary, Miss Representation, per The Muse, a film that investigates the depth and effects of the media's failure to realistically represent women.
6. "The Youth Need To See Greatness Reflected In Our Eyes. Go Forth, Let Them Know It’s Real" — Danai Gurira
As Time reported, actor and playwright Danai Gurira lent her voice to Homecoming, saying this quote following the card displaying Wright Edelman's words. Time reported that Tessa Thompson's voice also appears in the Netflix doc.
7. "Keep Going No Matter What" — Reginald Lewis
Reginald Lewis, who graduated from Virginia State University in 1965, famously used this quote as his mantra, according to The Root. Lewis is a successful entrepreneur known for supporting other Black entrepreneurs as well as being the first Black person to close an overseas billion-dollar buyout, which is financial speak for: very successful. A 2012 biography written about Lewis, uses his motto, Keep Going No Matter What, as its title.
8. “Without Community There Is No Liberation” — Audre Lorde
Homecoming quotes author and feminist activist Lorde's most well-known speech, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House," which she gave in 1979 at an international conference honoring the 30th anniversary of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. The transcript of the speech was later published in numerous books, including Sister Outsider, which was published in 1984.
9. "You’ve Chosen To Be A Person Of Integrity [To] The Best Of Your Ability Before The Worms Get Your Body" — Cornel West
This quote, from a longer clip of a speech given by Dr. Cornel West, plays during a montage of clips that show BTS footage of the performers arriving in the California desert for Coachella. The lines may have been recorded for the documentary, as there's no record of it appearing in one of Dr. West's speeches.
In his recording, West quotes other notable figures in Black history, as Beyoncé does throughout Homecoming. "'Keep on pushin,' Curtis Mayfield said; 'be a force for good,' Coltrane said; 'Mississippi Goddam,' said Nina Simone. That ain't having hope," Dr. West says, before speaking of integrity.
10. "What I Really Want To Do Is Be A Representative Of My Race... I Have A Chance To Show How Kind We Can Be" — Maya Angelou
This clip of Maya Angelou can also be heard in the Homecoming trailer. According to Oprah Magazine, the particular clip is from a 2013 interview that Angelou gave on the Canadian show, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. As Oprah Mag notes, the interview was among the last that the poet and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient gave before she passed away in 2014.
11. "Feminist: A Person Who Believes In The Social, Political, And Economic Equality Of The Sexes" — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Beyoncé fans likely recognize this voice from the Coachella performance of "Flawless," as it's also in the album recording. The clip comes from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 2012 TEDx Talk titled, "We Should All Be Feminists," in which she explains why feminism must become more widely adapted around the world.
Beyoncé is a stickler for every detail, which is why she's a star. And the impactful, historic quotes that she chose to feature in her doc are no different.