Beyonce issued a strong political statement with her halftime show at Super Bowl 50 on Sunday with backing dancers dressed as members of armed rights group the Black Panthers.
The superstar brought the dancers on for her new single Formation which is being widely touted as a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
At one point during the song, the supporting performers formed an ‘X’ on the field – thought to reference black rights campaigner Malcolm X – and then raised their arms in the air in a gesture referencing the black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Following the show, several of the dancers were pictured giving the same salute around a piece of paper that reads ‘justice 4 Mario Woods’ – a black man shot dead by police in San Francisco last December. Afterwards Beyonce said that she ‘wanted people to have love for themselves’.
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At one point during the performance the dancers raised their arms in the air in a gesture referencing the black power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Australian Olympics
Several of the backing dancers posted this image online following their performance demanding ‘justice 4 Mario Woods’ a black man shot dead by police in San Francisco in December last year
The superstar had been expected to deliver a political statement during her performance of new single Formation after releasing the video yesterday which featured graffiti reading ‘stop shooting us’. Above she and her dancers are pictured performing at the Super Bowl
Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mother, also uploaded this image to her Instagram of herself and the dancers giving the black power salute
Beyonce used her slot during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show to make a highly political point by performing with backing dancers dressed in the distinctive black berets of the Black Panthers (left)
Woods, 26, was shot dead by around a dozen armed officers after apparently refusing to drop a knife – but his killing angered activists who argue there were other ways to subdue him
Woods was filmed being shot to death by around a dozen armed police officers in San Francisco after apparently ignoring orders to drop a knife in December last year.
Woods was accused of stabbing a man around an hour earlier, but activists hit out at the shooting, saying there were likely other ways to subdue Woods without opening fire, since he wasn’t armed with a gun.
At the time Police Chief Greg Suhr said his department and San Francisco district attorney’s office would investigate the shootings.
The dancers, dressed head-to-toe in black, also donned the signature black beret of the political group that operated during the Sixties and Seventies.
THE BLACK PANTHERS
Central to the black power movement of the Sixties and Seventies, the Black Panthers were an armed group once dubbed ‘the greatest threat to the security of the country’ by FBI chief Hoover.
The group was founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, close to where theSuper Bowl is being played.
Following the teachings of men like Malcolm X, they advocated the use of force to prevent the oppression of black people in America.
They were also a socialist organization, believing in unity between the working classes that overlooked gender and race.
Beyonce was widely expected to make a political statement during the halftime show which was headlined by Coldplay and also featured Bruno Mars.
Anticipation had been building for her performance after she unexpectedly dropped the music video for the song on Saturday.
The video, the most political Beyonce has released, showed scenes of white police lining up against a black teenager and graffiti that reads ‘stop shooting us’.
Another part of the video shows Beyonce in a flooded New Orleans, recalling scenes after Hurricane Katrina in which George Bush was accused of ‘not caring about black people’ by rapper Kanye West after relief was slow in reaching the area.
Within minutes of the video’s release, Twitter was awash with reactions to the fiercely political lyrics and scenes – and a cameo role from the singer’s four-year-old daughter with Jay Z, Blue Ivy.
Several fans hit out at Beyonce over the music video and advocated boycotting the Super Bowl, accusing her of spreading an anti-cop message which only serves to further divide communities.
Writing on the singer’s Facebook page yesterday, Kristen Wickham said: ‘As the wife of a police officer, I am offended by this entire video. Rise above and stay above the strife.
‘For a girl who grew up in a privileged, wealthy family, she has no business pandering to those who didn’t. She has no idea what struggle is.
‘I have unliked you and your husband’s pages, deleted all of your songs from my collection and will never buy another thing associated with either of you.’
Meanwhile Rebekah Simpson added: ‘Planning to boycott the Super Bowl Halftime show. All Lives Matter! I am offended by your song “Formation” and its implication that there is a vast conspiracy in law enforcement against a particular race.
Beyonce was the star performer of this year’s halftime show that was actually hosted by British rock group Coldplay
Beyonce was widely expected to put in a political performance after releasing the video for her new song on Saturday which was hailed as a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement
At one point during the routine the dancers formed into an ‘X’, believed to be a reference to rights campaigner Malcolm X
While the dancers were dressed head to toe in black costumes, they also wore the black berets that became the Panther’s symbol in the Sixties and Seventies
Beyonce walked on to the field with the performers in a straight line before they formed an ‘X’, thought to refer to Malcolm X
Marks the spot: They also formed an ‘X’, thought to refer to Malcolm X
‘It is just not so. My husband puts his life on the line for ALL citizens. Do you kiss your loved one good bye each day knowing that there is a high probability that he may not return that evening? The officers that I know serve the community with honor and integrity. I salute them.’
Following her Super Bowl performance on Sunday night Twitter was again filled with people supporting Beyonce, claiming she had given a ‘history lesson’ to viewers.
Beyonce spoke afterwards of how thrilling it was to perform at the Super Bowl.
She told ET online that it ‘felt great’ to perform Formation. She added: ‘I wanted people to feel proud and have love for themselves.’
The Black Panthers were an infamous armed group that was founded in Oakland in 1966, close to where the Super Bowl is being played this evening, and operated during the Sixties and Seventies.
The group, once dubbed ‘the greatest threat to the internal security of the country’ by FBI director J Edgar Hoover, was formed in 1966 to combat oppression of black people in the U.S.
While previous civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King had advocated a policy of non-violence, the Panthers supported the use of force in order to hit at authorities and protect members.
Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, was sent to prison in 1946 for larceny and breaking and entering after a life of petty crime and trouble with the law.
But once in prison he discovered Islam and joined the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, dropping his ‘slave’ last name and adopting the letter ‘X’, symbolic of a stolen identity, in its place.
After he was paroled from prison in 1952 Malcolm X went on to challenge the mainstream non-violent civil rights movement of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Black Panthers, once dubbed ‘the greatest threat to the internal security of the country’ by FBI Director J Edgar Hoover, was a rights group that operated in the Sixties and Seventies
An image put out on Beyonce’s Instagram before the show echoed the iconic images of the Panthers from the Sixties and Seventies
A series of black and white images uploaded to Instagram clearly echoed old images of the Panthers from the Sixties and Seventies
The Panthers followed the teachings of Malcolm X, who believed that blacks and whites could not co-exist peacefully and advocated violence in order to protect his followers
Instead he called on his followers to defend themselves from white aggression ‘by any means necessary’, and advocated black rifle clubs.
His fundamental belief, taken from the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, was that the white man was the devil, and that blacks could never live in harmony with whites.
His autobiography, and numerous public speeches, formed the basis for the black power movement which gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s.
Meanwhile on the field on Sunday night, Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl dream came true as the Denver Broncos clinched the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Manning won his second Super Bowl after the Broncos triumphed 24-10 over Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers.
The Broncos dominated the game and never looked like giving away the lead after surging ahead early on.
Manning, 39, is almost certain to retire after a career that has seen him named MVP five times and regarded as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks ever.
However, he was coy about his plans and said he would take time off to discuss his future with his family before making a decision.
Beyonce’s own outfit contained nods to the Panther’s violent past, with gold belts crossed over the front resembling machine-gun ammunition, and metal studs down the side resembling shotgun shells
Beyonce performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi’s Stadium this evening
Showdown: At one point Beyonce and Bruno faced off before dancing side-by-side
Beyonce stole a halftime show which also featured performances from British rock group Coldplay and Bruno Mars (pictured with her)
Joyous: There was plenty of embracing going around as they finished off the highly-entertaining performance
Mutual respect: Beyonce and Bruno also shared an embrace together
Strutting their stuff: The two stars wore matching clothing for the big time performance
Three’s a crowd: The trio had fun as they sang the end of Uptown Funk together
Hamming it up: The trio sang directly into the camera for a cute moment during the telecast
Good vibes: The artists certainly seemed to have a wonderful time together
Flying high: Chris got some serious air as he jumped around on stage
Look at the stars: Chris began the performance on the field as he sung the chorus of old hit Yellow
Big night: Coldplay pulled out all the stops as they performed several of their hits at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show on Sunday night
Emotional: Chris showed off his impressive flexibility as he laid down with his knees under him
They’re back: After Bruno and Beyonce’s performances, Coldplay returned with Chris Martin on the piano as they did Clocks
On the ones and twos: Mark Ronson, who produced Uptown Funk, was seen DJing during the performance
The big stage: It was quite the grandiose production
Picturesque: As there were several different element involved in the performance, it made for a very strong ending
Finished with a bang: Not only was the singing and dancing impressive, but so was the fireworks display
Coldplay’s halftime message was rather more upbeat and colorful, with ‘Believe In Love’ written across the crowd