Beyoncé, Dancers Channel Black Panthers Iconography at Super Bowl

By Sameer Rao Feb 08, 2016

Super Bowl 50, held yesterday (February 8) in the Bay Area, notably coincided with the 50th anniversary* of the Black Panthers in Oakland—something Beyoncé and her backup dancers seemed to acknowledge in their knockout performance at the big game’s halftime show. 

Bey and her dancers performed a rendition of her latest single "Formation," donning clothing that included bullet belts, black berets and tons of leather. They then joined fellow performers Coldplay and Bruno Mars, as well as a whole host of children sort of playing string instruments, in what Mic called "12-minute tribute to LGBT love—with an epic Black Lives Matter interlude." 

A video surfaced later of Beyoncé’s dancers calling for justice for Mario Woods, a Black man killed by San Francisco police officers in early December 2015:


Beyoncé’s Dancers want #JusticeMarioWoods

Posted by Black Lives Matter Bay Area on Sunday, February 7, 2016

The centerpiece of Beyoncé’s performance was "Formation," which was released with a new video on Saturday (February 6) that has everybody talking. Both the song and video have been received with tremendous acclaim as an expression of unapologetic Blackness with strong resonance in the era of #BlackLivesMatter (including by many on our Facebook page). Notable images and scenes from the video include Beyoncé dancing on a police car sinking in post-Katrina waters, a Black youth dancing in a hoodie in front of police who put their own hands up and daughter Blue Ivy Carter standing proud with an afro. The video’s significance has already been dissected by every publication under the sun, but here are a few illustrative praises (and rebuttals to complains over her video and performance) from social media:


Beyoncé also announced the Formation World Tour in a subsequent commercial.

(H/t Mic,, USA Today

Note: Historical records, including this one from The Nation, cite the Black Panther Party’s founding in October of 1966.