Beyonce pulls off her signature surprise album drop in hunour of Juneteenth

Beyonce drops a surprise benefit single for Juneteenth filled with no less than black pride lyrical content, titled Black Parade. This marks her first solo release since last year's Lion King soundtrack album; The Gift, from the Disney remake in which she starred as Nala.

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With an engraved history of pulling off surprise music releases, it has become much less shocking when the superstar drops new songs and even clothing collections without any warning. This past Friday was no different, and better still it was for a good cause. 

As current world events take a toll due to global mass protests condemning police brutality, all happening amid the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Juneteenth celebration, unlike in the past, is sadly marked with more anguish than joy. 

Juneteenth (also referred to as Juneteenth Independence Day) commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865.

While those who were enslaved were first freed through the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1862, the last enslaved African Americans only learned about their freedom three years following the Civil War on June 19 in Galveston, Texas. In 1980, Texas was also the first to proclaim Juneteenth an official holiday.

Juneteenth Celebration in Texas, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

155 years later since the abolishment of slavery, celebrations of this occasion have evolved. The holiday was initially honoured with prayers and gatherings filled with food and arts.

This year, the holiday has given more stimulus to the fight against police brutality and systematic racism for black Americans and other minorities.

Activists and public figures have used the day to spread awareness about the racial injustices still taking place while remaining hopeful that the fight against these injustices will finally be won, just like that of slavery. 

A Texas native herself, Beyonce opens the track singing; “I’m going back to the South, I’m going back where my roots ain’t watered down… growing like a baobab tree,”.  

Not one shy away from celebrating her heritage, her unapologetic expression of her blackness can be traced back to the hit single ‘Formation’. Released in 2016, the song details nuances acclaimed as activism for African Americans, women and the LGBTQI+ community.

The multi Grammy winning superstar took to Instagram to announce the news, stating that proceeds from the single would benefit black-owned businesses.

The post was captioned as follows: “Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power.”

Along with the single release, the Houston-born songstress proceeded to share a directory of black-owned businesses as detailed on her website. Compiled by stylist Zerina Akers, the directory, titled Black Owned Everything, includes businesses in the beauty industry as well as fashion, hospitality, wellness and more. 

Following the latest protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the hands of a police officer in May, many have turned the rage into an urge for change.

While there is still a long way to go until systematic racism is dismantled, solidarity for change has encouraged supporting black-owned business.

Further advocating for this course, Beyonce announced that proceeds acquired from the brand new track would benefit the black-owned small business through BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund.