This year’s award show celebrates the revolutionary power of black love.
For 11 years, Beverly Bond has been giving black women a space to tell their stories, celebrate their worth and combat the negative stereotypes placed upon them.
The celebrity DJ and former model launched Black Girls Rock! in 2006 to serve as a platform for black women to recognize just how special they are in a world that tells them otherwise. Today, in a time when white supremacists feel emboldened and black girls aren’t able just be children, Black Girls Rock! is especially relevant.
“Black women have stood up against so much,” the New York City-born founder told HuffPost. “I think that we have had to survive, we’ve had to push through, we’ve had to lead, we’ve had to tap into this spiritual energy that we are really tuned into like no other.”
One of her organization’s biggest events is its annual award show to honor black women in activism, entertainment, business, education and other fields who are making a big impact.
This year’s event ― taped on August 5 and airing on BET Tuesday night ― was hosted by Taraji P. Henson and held in the auditorium of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Fans cheered as Issa Rae, Yara Shahidi and Congresswoman Maxine Waters entered the room. And then a peak black girl magic moment happened when Waters (who was already seated) spotted Dionne Warwick.
Warwick embraced Waters with a warmth that could be felt throughout the room. This auntie moment symbolized what this award show was created for in 2006: to celebrate the power and beauty of black sisterhood.
″This message of sisterhood has always been a core, a pillar of what Black Girls Rock! stands for,” Bond told HuffPost in an interview after the show.
This year’s honorees include some more recognizable names including Waters (Social Humanitarian Award), Rae (Star Power Award), Shahidi (Young, Gifted and Black Award), Solange and Roberta Flack (Living Legend Award). Bond said when selecting celebrants, she makes sure to highlight women whose work isn’t as known.
“I love people discovering women like Suzzane Shank or discovering the work [from] women like… Natalie Wilson and Derricka Wilson from Black and Missing,” Bond said of this year’s Shot Caller Award and Community Change Agent Award recipients. “I just love when people find out about the great hidden figures we have in plain sight.”
In addition to the support black women have from their communities, Bond said it felt especially important to give black love a platform this year. With the exception of the M.A.D. Girls award recipients (Ibtihaj Muhamad, Haben Girma and Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna) and Solange (presented by Bond), black men presented awards to the honorees ― a first for their televised show, Bond said.
″‘Black love is revolutionary’ is the theme for this year and I chose it specifically because of all the things that are going on in the world that are forces than are pushing against us, pushing against people of color,” she said. “I thought it was very important for us this year