Black Girls Rock!
Last Night, BET network aired the 2015 Black Girls Rock!™ awards hosted by actresses Regina King, the voice of Cartoon Network’s, Riley and Huey of The Boondocks, and Tracee Ellis Ross of ABC’s Blackish. The star-studded event was held in honor of the evenings celebrants to pay respects for the continued work and dedication to showing women and girls of color that it is possible to be successful and empowered.
Black Girls Rock!™ is 501(c)3 non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization established to “promote the arts for young women of color, as well as to encourage dialog and analysis of the ways women of color are portrayed in the media.”
Since 2006, BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ has been dedicated to the healthy development of young women and girls, by changing the conversation on self-esteem and self-worth. By partnering with BET Network BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ has sought to change the outlook on life for young women of color by broadening their horizons and helping them to empower themselves. For the past five years, Black Girls Rock has enjoyed the opportunity to enrich the lives of girls aged 12 to 17 years old through mentorship, arts education, cultural exploration and public service. At BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™, young women are offered access to enrichment programs and opportunities that place special emphasis on personal development through the arts and cooperative learning.
BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ Inc. continues to partner with BET Networks in the worldwide broadcast of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! awards. And the event continues to be historic and monumental highlighting the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions in their careers, and who stand as inspirational and positive role models in their communities.
This year’s line up of award winners and performers are just that.
And in true award style the red carpet was awash with celebrities out to take in the nights festivities.
Jad Pinkett Smith, another of the evening’s celebrants and family; her mother, Willow and husband Will, who presented her award
The eveningsbosts, Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross, performer Jill Scott and Black Girls Rock Founder, Beverly Bond
With an amazing line up of performances and presenters there was no greater way to honor the nights celebrants than in true style with a night of glamour and fan fare. The night’s festivities started of with a bang with Sheila E introducing us to the Glamorous Life with an amazing set on the drums representative of her Afro-Latina roots mingled with the sounds of pop, jazz and funk.
The festivities continued with several fabulous outfit changes by the hosts and even an impromptu performance by “T-Murda” and “Queen Floetic”.
Among the guests being honored, Cicely Tyson who received the Living Legend award for her work in the arts, and heralded as the “rose that grew from the concrete“. She was introduced by
Joining the legendary New Yorker, Ms. Tyson, was Dr. Helen D. Gayle, who received the award for Social Humanitarianism. Journalist and politicl correspondent, Melissa Harris-Perry joined the audience in welcoming Dr. Gayle by giving a brief review of her work in her long career of social activism.
Among the ranks of great women honored was actress Jada Pinkett-Smith who received her award from hubby, Will Smith. Pinkett-Smith was heralded for her work in film and media and her continued depiction of women in significant roles in media.
Also being honored was director Ava Duvernay who was dubbed the Shot Caller for her groundbreaking work on the film Selma and her continued work to tell stories with her influence in film.
Also in the ranks was this years “rockstar” awardee, Miss Erykah Badu introduced by her mentee and friend, Janelle Monae. Badu was honored for pushing the envelope with her music and being a force to reckon with, always telling a story and never ceasing to seek the empowerment of women.
Other award winners were Nadia Lopez, founder of the Brooklyn’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy who has helped change the face of one of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods forgotten by the system. Not only has she helped shape social change in the lives of this neighborhood’s young ones but she has also broadened their horizons and given hope to future generations.
Amongst these great women were three young women honored as M.A.D Girls who had the honor of sharing the stage with one of the most powerful women of color in the country, first lady Michelle Obama, who was also in attendance. The first lady shared in the excitement of this night of female empowerment and urged for the continuance of work like that of the organization and reminded everyone of the importance of events like this in the lives of women of color. She also reminded that all girls rock and shared the capacity for greatness.
Each of these young women were honored for their contributions to youth empowerment. Chental Song-Bembry is the creator, author and illustrator of the Honey Bunch Kids series, and has used her platform to encourage youth literacy and academic success through reading. Gabrielle Jordan is the founder of ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute, a youth entrepreneurship program and is the youngest member of the Great Black Speakers Bureau. Kaya Thomas is a vlogger and tech advocate who has developed a literacy app which allows reader to find material for and by people of color, she also currently runs a vlog giving coding and tech tutorials.
Also hitting the stage was Black Girls Rock founder Beverly Bond who shared words of encouragement to all of the awardees and girls everywhere and reminded all girls to keep on rocking!
Amidst the evenings recognition of these amazing ladies, performances by Alicia Meyers, Cheryl Lynn, Ciara, Erykah Badu, Estelle, Faith Evans, Fantasia, Jill Scott, Kathy Sledge and Lalah Hathaway continued to wow and entertain the guests as the nights celebrants were honored.
The night closed with all the ladies of the night gathering on one stage to remind the world and women of color that motivation, upliftment and encouragement of their achievements and successes are the real reason why Black Girls – all girls – ROCK!