Activists Describe How They Got Beyoncé’s Backup Dancers to Demand Justice for Mario Woods

By Sameer Rao Feb 09, 2016

As Mic reports, there’s a story behind the images and videos of Beyoncé’s backup dancers demanding justice for Mario Woods at Super Bowl 50

According to a piece written by Jamilah King, Bay Area organizers Ronnisha Johnson and Rheema Calloway had tickets for the halftime performance and sought to use the platform to draw attention to the San Francisco police killing of Mario Woods, a mentally ill Black man. The fatal shooting was locally significant but did not make major national waves. 

Explained Johnson, "We know San Francisco is capitalizing off of the momentum of the Super Bowl at the expense of the poor Black communities that reside here."

As Beyoncé’s dancers, clad in black leather and berets in homage to the Black Panthers, exited the stage with fists in the air, Johnson and Calloway delivered them a sign reading "Justice 4 Mario Woods," before explaining Woods’ death. As Calloway described, "They didn’t second guess taking a stand in solidarity with us for Mario Woods and it seemed they had already heard the story, but we didn’t have enough time to react." So, the dancers took a photo and video that circulated across the Internet. 


#sb50 #beyhive #justiceformariowoods #last3percent

A video posted by Supreme Queen (@emydamagnificent) on

Just more proof that activists can compell important statements from big artists and their suppporting personnel, even in the middle of the biggest televised event of the year. 

(H/t Mic