Beyonce’s politically-charged performance on Sunday, which heavily referenced the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers at Super Bowl 50, assisted in showcasing the growing activist movements among the black community.
Her “Formation” performance, voicing racial inequality and police brutality towards the black community while also embracing black femininity, put black America center stage in front of 114.4 million viewers at the Super Bowl. During the performance, dancers made an “X” formation in reference to Malcom X while raising their fists in a black pride salute.
After the performance, some of the dancers— dressed in Black Panther-style berets and in black leather— were pictured raising their fists again, yet this time holding a piece of paper that read “Justice 4 Mario Woods.”
— BLM Bay area (@BLMBAYAREA) February 8, 2016
This move followed about 200 protesters who had demonstrated in San Francisco on Jan. 30 for Woods. Protesters were out demanding justice and for San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr to be fired.
Mario Woods was a black man shot dead by by five San Francisco police officers during a confrontation in San Francisco last December.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Woods was shot about fifteen times by five officers. Cell phone footage shows him walking away from the police refusing to drop a knife. Activists have argued that he was mentally ill and that the force used by the officers was unnecessary.
Woods supporters have said the cell phone footage showed that Woods was not an imminent danger and was executed by police in a “firing-squad” style. The SFC reported that “Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, said he was working on getting his life on track after his stint in prison. He had just gotten his uniform for his new UPS job, she said.”
Last Friday, prominent artist and activist Alicia Keys spoke out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters ahead of the Super Bowl while performing at San Francisco’s free Super Bowl City concert.
“I want you to know that I salute everyone who has the courage and conviction to stand for what’s right. I want to thank you for your commitment to making sure justice is done for Mario Woods. As the mother of two black sons it breaks my heart to see what we’ve been seeing, the trouble’s we’ve been seeing on camera, and all the people that we’ll never see.”
This isn’t the first time Alicia Keys or Beyonce have spoken out in solidarity with the black community and Black Lives Matter. Last year, Beyonce and her husband Jay Z reportedly wired “tens of thousands” of dollars to bail protesters out in Baltimore and Ferguson. Jay Z, along with Roc Nation, also recently donated $1.5 million from Tidal Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations. This donation was made on February 5th in honor of Trayvon Martin’s birthday, who would have turned 21 had he not been shot by George Zimmerman.
Beyonce went on to end her performance with announcing her world tour and a new fund to help the children of Flint, Michigan, during the city’s current water crisis.