Beyoncé’s Super Bowl dancers demand ‘Justice 4 Mario Woods’

The important message behind Beyoncé’s dancers’ outfits capped off her most important week

Beyoncé-dancers-halftime-show-Super-Bowl-50-020716-by-AP, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl dancers demand ‘Justice 4 Mario Woods’, Local News & Views
Beyoncé’s halftime show at Super Bowl 50, played less than 50 miles from Oakland, where the Black Panther Party was founded 50 years ago, was spectacular. – Photo: AP

by Jamilah King

Twenty-four hours after she dropped “Formation,” one of the most political music videos in recent memory, Beyoncé took the halftime stage at Super Bowl 50 and gave a riveting, Black Panther-themed performance while her crew of Black female performers donned black berets and leather body suits.

Beyoncés-dancers-demand-Justice-4-Mario-Woods-halftime-Super-Bowl-50-020716-by-Kofi-Ademola-Xola-1, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl dancers demand ‘Justice 4 Mario Woods’, Local News & Views
Thanks to Ronnisha Johnson and Rheema Emy Calloway, some of Beyoncé’s dancers took a moment to pose with a “Justice 4 Mario Woods” sign, living the role of the Black Panthers that their costumes portray. – Photo: Kofi Ademola Xola

Sunday’s performance came after Beyoncé broke the internet with a new video composed of Black cultural symbols ranging from antebellum Southern fashion, hot sauce swag and Black Lives Matter. It left the internet, especially Black Twitter, in complete shock and showed that despite criticism for her perceived lack of political interest, the world’s biggest pop star is woke AF.

You don’t just watch a video like “Formation.” You absorb it, you study it, you praise it. One day after making such an unapologetically Black statement for the world to see, it was only natural that Beyoncé would make a direct link to Black activist history.

The video created an immeasurable amount of anticipation for Beyoncé’s halftime performance. That anticipation only grew when she shared rehearsal videos with fans on Instagram before the first half of the game was over. In them, the singer’s backup dancers show #blackgirlmagic at its most ordinary, clowning around on a bus and practicing dance steps. It’s almost easy to forget that they’re world-class entertainers gearing up to give one of the most highly anticipated live performances – on one of the world’s biggest stages – in recent memory.

Beyoncé’s performance was a moving tribute to Black activism, both past and present, and it’s the clearest sign yet that she is truly an artist of this political movement.

Jamilah King is a senior staff writer at Mic, where this story first appeared and she focuses on race, gender and sexuality. She was formerly senior editor at Colorlines, an award-winning daily news site dedicated to racial justice. Prior to Colorlines, Jamilah was associate editor of WireTap, an online political magazine for young adults. She’s also a current board member of Women, Action and the Media (WAM!). Her work has appeared on Salon, MSNBC, the American Prospect, Al Jazeera, The Advocate and in the California Sunday Magazine. Follow @JamilahKing.

Beyoncé announces fund for Flint children and world tour

Black-Panthers-Sacramento-BPP-women-singing-Free-Huey-Rally-by-Pirkle-Jones, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl dancers demand ‘Justice 4 Mario Woods’, Local News & Views
This is the iconic photo of Black Panther women of the Sacramento chapter singing at a Free Huey rally. – Photo: Pirkle Jones

The Detroit Free Press reports: “Beyoncé announced a fund to benefit Flint children as she revealed a world tour …

“She unveiled the Formation World Tour on Sunday in one of the most high-profile settings possible, announcing the coming run in a commercial that aired after her exuberant Super Bowl halftime performance with Coldplay. …

“As part of the upcoming run, the singer is asking fans to keep tabs on her @beygood Twitter feed for details on helping young Flint residents in need.

“Beyoncé and the United Way are ‘partnering with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to create a fund that will address long-term developmental, education, nutrition and health needs of the children affected by the Flint water crisis,’ the star’s team said in a statement Sunday night.”


Only one day after the release of “Formation,” calls are being heard to boycott Beyoncé for its “harsh message” to police, according to Business Insider.