Beyonce’s ‘Black Is King’ Becomes a Course Subject at Harvard

Beyonce’s full-length visual album ‘Black Is King’ became a subject for a program at The Harvard Museum of Science & Culture. The program, titled ‘Black Is Queen: The Divinie Feminine in Kush’, used songs from ‘Black Is King’ to accompany the course that ‘highlights the unusually high status of women’ in the Nubian Kingdom of Kush (now Northern Sudan). The Disney+ film, directed by Beyonce herself, was released as a visual reimagination for Disney’s The Lion King: The Gift in July last year. 

‘Black Is King’, with The Gift as the soundtrack, retells the story centering on Black excellence and now with ‘Beyoncé seeking to restore that greatness to those of her lineage.’ The Harvard program of ‘Black Is Queen: The Divinie Feminine in Kush’ conducted on March 25th via Zoom focused on the significant female power and control exercised by women in the Nubian Kingdom of Kush. The study used ‘temple inscriptions found in Egypt and Nubia, the rich funerary goods found in royal burials, and temple and tomb imagery, to how ancient Africans of the Nile Valley understood female power and presence.’ According to the University’s website, ““Black Is King” will be woven into this presentation on Kushite queens to emphasize the power and centrality of the African queen mother in her royal family and kingdom.” 

The program was headed by its speaker Solange Ashby, an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Classics and Ancient Studies, Barnard College. She holds a Ph.D. in Egyptology specializing ‘in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion from the University of Chicago.’ Dr. Ashby is currently researching the roles of women in traditional Nubian religious practices, while also working on the first monograph dedicated to the religious symbolism, history, and political power of the queens of Kush. Using songs from ‘Black is King’ for the program concentrated on the queens of Kush is part of her teachings at Barnard College.

After the release of Beyonce’s critically acclaimed visual album ‘Lemonade’ in 2016, the ‘Formation’ singer stepped aside from releasing studio albums and instead delivered multiple exemplary projects – Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella performance (popularly known as Beychella) and its complementary concert film ‘Homecoming’; she lent her voice as Lion King’s Nala accompanied with the album The Gift, made particularly to make known the beauty of African music with the help of Black artists, and underrated singers and producers from Africa. It features Jay-Z, Pharrell, Childish Gambino, ‘Nigerian stars Wizkid and Tiwa Savage, South Africa’s Moonchild Sanelly, and Ghana’s Shatta Wale; while the record features lyrics in Swahili, Yoruba, and Afrikaans, amongst others.’


Feature Image Via Dezeen

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