Jamila Woods creates an enchanted school where the joys of dancing, enjoying a sumptuous meal and engaging learning is taught in a magical setting for her new “Baldwin” video. The song appears on Legacy! Legacy!, which the soulful R&B singer and poet released in May.
The song is inspired by James Baldwin’s powerful “A Letter to My Nephew,” and its Vincent Martell-directed visual is set in what looks like an abandoned school on Chicago’s South Side, but as Woods described it in a statement, it’s “like Hogwarts, but Black.” As three students approach the school, they magically move through an outside wall and are transported into a beautiful space, where everyone is engrossed in the day’s teachings, handclaps turn into fireworks and caring camaraderie is found throughout.
Woods sings about racism, gentrification and other injustices. “We don’t go out/Can’t wish us away,” she soulfully sings on the chorus, which is buoyed by horn melodies. “We been burning brighter every day/You don’t know a thing about our story, tell it wrong all the time/Don’t know a thing about our glory, wanna steal my baby’s shine.”
The stirring video ends with students discussing what their dream school would entail, which includes the need for an updated library (one student explains her school does not have one), the consideration of feelings and emotions in addition to learning and the need to teach at individual student’s levels while pushing them to succeed.
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“To outsiders, the school appears to be abandoned — one of 50 public schools closed under Mayor Emmanuel’s watch in 2013,” she explains in a statement about the video. “However, for Black people in the neighborhood this space is a gem, an oasis of Black learning and radical education for young people. We shot part of the film documentary-style to include young people’s perspectives on what they would want their dream school to be like.”