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Michelle Obama Applauds Beyoncé’s ‘Formation Scholars’

Beyoncé has announced that it’s time for young women to get into her scholarship formation.

The singer, songwriter and pop culture staple has established the “Formation Scholars” awards, “to encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident,” according to the announcement posted Monday on her website.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, four scholarships will be awarded, one per college, to female incoming, current or graduate students pursuing studies in literature, music, creative arts or African American studies.

Colleges chosen to participate in the program are Howard University, Spelman College, Berklee College of Music and Parsons School of Design. Both Howard and Spelman are historically Black institutions. According to the website, the details and application deadlines are available directly from the schools. It was not stated whether they would be full or partial scholarships.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated Beyoncé’s endeavors via Twitter and Instagram posts on Tuesday:



Along with a friendship, Obama and Beyoncé share a common mission to assist young women in pursuing an education. In March 2015, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative to assist in the schooling of girls across the globe.

Since then, “Let Girls Learn” has raised $1 billion in U.S. investments, and even more internationally, with more than 100 company partners, Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, said on Tuesday.

“Stories of students reaching higher continue to inspire me,” the former first lady said of her emotional talk with students at an alternative high school.

A staunch advocate for education, Obama in March surprised a group of 14 students at Ballou STAY, an alternative high school in Southeast Washington, D.C., with a visit. She spoke with students for two hours.

Obama also wrote a letter of recommendation for young “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahid to include with her college applications.

‘Lemonade’ Causes a Stir

Beyoncé also said Monday that the scholarship announcement adds to the one-year anniversary celebration of “Lemonade.”

The “visual album” named “Lemonade” caused a stir when it was released a year ago this week, accompanied by a one-hour film that aired on HBO, a Time Warner company (No. 37 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list).

It is “based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing,” Tidal, the music streaming service owned by her husband, Jay Z, said in a statement last year.

On Thursday, it was announced that Beyoncé had won a prestigious 2017 Peabody Award for “Lemonade.” And, according to the 2017 Global Music Report, it was the global top album of 2016.

“Lemonade’s” mix of spoken word, imagery and lyrics on love, betrayal, infidelity and anger had social media wondering if Beyoncé’s lyrics were directed toward her husband.

But it was the video for one of the tracks, “Formation,” that caused controversy when it was released on Feb. 6, 2016. Beyoncé’s anti-police brutality message is reflected in scenes including “Stop Shooting Us” spray painted in black against a white brick wall and a sinking New Orleans cop car at the video’s conclusion.

That message didn’t sit well with law enforcement unions across the country, which called for a police boycott of her tour. And she received backlash after performing the single during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show on Feb. 7, 2016.

But the “Formation” video also makes reference to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And the lyrics to the song also celebrate her southern roots and her pride in being a Black woman.

The short film for “Lemonade” prominently features Black women including Serena Williams; actresses Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Zendaya; singers Ibeyi and Chloe x Halle; and model Winnie Harlow.

It also includes the poetry of 27-year-old Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Incorporated throughout are nods to the literary styles of Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, and the music of Nina Simone.

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