At the UNC Press Blog, historian LaKisha Simmons “explores the historic and symbolic significance of the plantation settings in Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade:”
“As black feminist Katherine McKittrick explains, “The various kinds of madness, the pathological geographies, the dismembered and displaced bodies, the impossible black places, the present-past time-space of cartographers, the topographies of ‘something lost, or barely visible, or seeing not there’—these material and metaphoric places begin to take us” inside of black women’s subjectivities.
“Dismembered and displaced bodies are haunting the landscape of Lemonade‘s past and present. In 1811, a slave revolt in plantations along the Mississippi River began with the murder of plantation owner Manuel Andry’s son. Charles Deslondes, a Haitian-born enslaved slave-driver (he was responsible for punishing the other enslaved workers) led an army of enslaved men and women fighting for their freedom. The army marched to plantations downriver, trying to make their way to New Orleans, killing whites and freeing enslaved blacks along the way.
Lemonade was filmed at one of those plantations: Destrehan Plantation. At Destrehan, an army of plantation owners and white elites confronted the black rebel army. The plantation elites won the battle and captured the men responsible for the uprising. As punishment, and as a reminder to the enslaved to fear white power, they executed those responsible and cut off their heads. The plantation owners placed the severed heads of the revolutionaries on poles and lined them up for 40 miles along the river to New Orleans….”