The Meaningful Reason Beyoncé Chose To Feature This New York Manor In Black Is King

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+.
Black Is King, Beyoncé's recently released visual album, is all about celebrating the Black identity. This was achieved not only in obvious ways, like with the people who appeared in the visual album and the lyrics of the songs, but also in more covert ways like through the filming locations. Portions of the album were shot across Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, England, Belgium, and the United States. One U.S. location in particular stands out for its meaningful contribution to highlighting the Black experience, and that's Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in Shelter Island, New York.
Sylvester Manor was built in 1652 and was a provisioning plantation for the Barbadian sugar trade. The manor was worked by enslaved Africans, as well as indentured or paid Native American and European labourers. Today, the manor is a community-supported organic educational farm, but it is because of its history as a slaveholding plantation that the manor's grounds were chosen to be featured in Black Is King.
Advertisement
According to Sylvester Manor Educational Farm's website, for at least a thousand years before Europeans arrived on Shelter Island, the land that now makes up the manor's grounds served as settlements for the Manhansett tribe. A portion of that land is also the burial grounds for as many as 200 enslaved servants and laborers.
Recently, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm posted on Instagram about its appearance in Beyoncé's visual album, writing: "We believe Beyoncé chose our site understanding the cultures who lived and worked together at Sylvester Manor and the importance they have played in the Manor's nearly 400-year history. Beyoncé and her dancers performing on the land of the Manor paid tribute to the Ancestors of Sylvester Manor, invoking their spirits and celebrating their heritage."
View this post on Instagram

On July 31, 2020 a new visual album from Beyoncé entitled “Black is King” premiered on Disney+. Sylvester Manor Educational Farm was chosen as one of the locations, utilizing the woodlands, waterways and many of the ancient trees of our historic property. ⠀ ⠀ “Black is King'' is a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience. It reimagines the lessons of "The Lion King" for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns in a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity. ⠀ ⠀ The lens through which the public understands historic places of enslavement of African People is shifting, and we’re working hard to unearth and share the stories of the Indigenous Native Manhansetts, the European settlers and the enslaved Africans brought to Shelter Island against their will. Sylvester Manor Educational Farm’s Mission has been to Preserve, Cultivate and Share this history, uncovering these complex and important truths and sharing them with our community.⠀ ⠀ We believe Beyoncé chose our site understanding the cultures who lived and worked together at Sylvester Manor and the importance they have played in the Manor’s nearly 400 year history. Beyoncé and her dancers performing on the land of the Manor paid tribute to the Ancestors of Sylvester Manor, invoking their spirits and celebrating their heritage,⠀ ⠀ We are proud that Sylvester Manor is a part of the national conversation and thank Beyoncé and her team at Parkwood Entertainment for selecting our historic location to be a part of her exceptional film. Photos courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment/Disney+.⠀ ⠀ #sylvestermanor #sylvestermanoreudcationalfarm #shelterisland #beyoncé #blackisking #already #disney+ #movielocation #preservecultivateshare

A post shared by Sylvester Manor Farm (@sylvestermanoreducationalfarm) on

Unlike Beverly House, the $135 million Beverly Hills mansion featured in the "Mood 4 Eva" segment of Black Is King, Sylvester Manor is usually open to the public. Unfortunately, Beyoncé fans will have to wait to visit the beautiful and historically significant grounds because the manor is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 concerns. For now, consider checking out the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes or Havasu Falls, which also served as locations in the visual album, and read more about the manor's history and take a virtual tour of the grounds by visiting Sylvester Manor Educational Farm's official website.

More from Travel

R29 Original Series