When Renaissance Took Over New Orleans

Rosalyn Morris
ZORA
Published in
6 min readDec 4, 2023

--

In honor of Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé being released, I’m remembering my experience at the concert of the same name and the impact it had on Black women.

Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

As we entered the train station — my mother, sister, and I (two generations of Black women) — the first thought I had was wow, we’re all here for Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour. We’ve taken over the train station.

When I told my sister this, she was doubtful.

Sister: the whole train station, really??? *eye roll*

Me: yessssssssss!!! don’t you see the outfits, the makeup, and the hair in pin curls? these black women and girls, from ages 12 to 70, are in this train station to travel to New Orleans to see Renaissance.

Sister: *another eye roll*

But it was true.

It wasn’t long before more of us rolled into the train station, excited that in about eight hours, we’d be seeing the critically acclaimed Renaissance World Tour.

It wasn’t just a concert.

It was a moment. An experience.

Renaissance means rebirth in French.

New Orleans is a former French territory.

It also belonged to Spain before the United States acquired it in 1803 through the Louisiana purchase. No matter who had ownership, New Orleans was a slave city. In fact, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the U.S. with more than 50 places where the enslaved were sold.

Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, is from New Orleans.

Surely almost every one of us, like Beyoncè, descended from families who were once enslaved in one of these Southern states.

However, in this rebirth, or rather reclamation, the majority Black woman crowd (there were more than 85,000 people at the concert) strolled, strutted, and sauntered through the streets of New Orleans free, in more ways than one.

Most of us stuck to the theme of the concert which was sexy, liberated, futuristic, metallic, Western, and bold.

Renaissance, the album and concert, was also queer friendly/centric — specifically paying homage to gay Black male ballroom culture.

--

--