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Black Girls Rock 2015 Was Everything: Recap with (Mostly) Full Quotes

black-girls-rock 2015

Black Girls Rock is awesome for the mere fact that it creates space for the celebration of Black womanhood, Black girlhood, Black femininity and Black girl magic. The organization (and show), created by Beverly Bond, takes time to honor us on a grand scale and that by itself is incredible. Why? Because we do not get praised enough, and we’re chastised far too often. Beverly’s work is necessary, significant and powerful.

Last night’s Black Girls Rock show on BET had me throwing my handkerchief at the TV in inspiration. The 2013 Black Girls Rock show was amazing but this one stepped it up a notch. Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross hosted once again and they came out looking like HELL YES. Just unable to flaw.

This show was extra special because the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama got on that stage and loudly affirmed to Black girls everywhere that they matter, and they rock.

She took the stage and the first things she said is “Black Girls Rock. Let me say that again. BLACK. GIRLS. ROCK.”

Black Girls Rock MO

Image by @UnitedBlackOut

She did that for the upper decks, the nosebleed seats, the haters and the naysayers. Like in case y’all weren’t sure who she is and what she is and how proud she is to be that. And I got my entire life. Because when is the next time we will have the wife of the leader of the free world boldly declare and affirm the value of Black girlhood? WHEN??? The fact that it might not happen again for a long time made me a little bit sad because I loved that moment so much and so hard.

Random note: The First Lady and I went to the same high school. SHOUTOUT TO WHITNEY YOUNG DOLPHINS EVERYWHERE!

But the entire show was a 2.5 hour highlight, especially because the speeches were incredibly inspiring. SO many quotables, and I transcribed most of them.

Erykah Badu

Janelle Monae presented the first award, which was the Rock Star Award. It was to Erykah Badu the Trill. Her music is the soundtrack of so many peoples’ lives and she is fearless in her vulnerability. And her music just goes so hard in the paint!

Erykah Badu Janelle Monae

“I’d like to dedicate this award to my 5 mothers. My mother, Queenie; my grandmother, Viola; my grandmother, Thelma; my godmother, Gwen and Mother Nature. I would like to say to little Black girls who rock all over the world: the thing that keeps us going is our vitality. I subscribe to 5 doctors: Dr Sun. Dr. Nutrition. Dr. Exercise. Dr. Spirit. Dr. You.”

Erykah then came on a little bit later for a dope performance of “Soldier” and “Master Teachers.” I really liked that BET didn’t censor the song’s hook: “What if there was no niggas only master teachers?”

Nadia Lopez

There are times when you know some things were meant to happen. The day that Human of New York’s Brandon Stanton stopped to interview a little boy named Vidal was one of those times. That is how we’ve all come to know Nadia Lopez (@thelopezeffect), principal of Brooklyn’s Motts Hall Bridges Academy. She was honored with the Change Agent Award and her speech was rousing.

Nadia Lopez Black Girls Rock

“I wanna thank God for this day and appointed time. I also want to thank Beverly for your vision and conviction. To allow someone like me to even be honored. As women, we are constantly having to prove our worth, intelligence and having to fight for respect on our jobs, in society and many times in our homes. Ironically, when one of us women achieves recognizable success, we are taught to question the credibility of that success instead of expecting greatness and celebrating it.

The SHE that is great, whether recognized or not, lives in all of us. She is significant. She is heroic. And she is exquisite. God fashioned each of us with gifts and talents and abilities that I have been blessed to use. And I use them to empower children. So the daily question that I ask myself that I ask you is ‘What are you doing with God’s gift?’ How are you changing the world? And how are you making a difference in the lives of children? 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind my scholars that learning is a lifelong process and the reason why we wear black and purple is because we are descendants of royalty and they are bound for greatness.”

Nadia’s passion for educating came out her pores and I’m glad to see her on that stage. Educators needs to be honored more because they do thankless work. I can’t wait for Taraji P. Henson to play her in a biopic. YOU KNOW YOU SEE IT.

Dr. Helene Gayle

Honored with the Social Humanitarian Award, Dr. Helene D. Gayle (@helenegayle) is a heavyhitter who has worked in senior positions for the Center for Disease Control, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is now CEO of Care USA.

Helene Gayle Black Girls Rock

‘My mother herself, who is a Black girl who rocks, told me “You have a good brain and a big mouth so use them.”… When girls and women gain voice, they become empowered. And when that happens, everyone wins: families, communities, nations and ultimately, our world.’

And she was WEARINGGG that cobalt dress. LAWD.

Ava DuVernay

My bae Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) received the Shot Caller award, presented to her by Carmen Ejogo. You know she went up there and dropped many gems.

Ava DuVernay Black Girls Rock

“When Black women make a film, it’s not an interpretation, it is a reflection and it is important to embrace it… You don’t have to be famous to be a star. We can be a star in our own lives, my sisters. Right where you are. When I’m feeling shaky, I just go into the leading lady stance, heroine stance. I hold my head up. I put my shoulders back. And I close my eyes and I think: Lights – that’s my spirit. Camera – that’s my mind. Action – that’s my life. Light. Camera. Action. Onward.”

YESSSS. And she was in this red dress that had me swooning.

Beverly Bond

Creator of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond (@BeverlyBond), took the stage to talk about why she does this work.

“I want to congratulate all of tonight’s incredible celebrants who represent the spectrum of brilliance that Black women possess. Your elevation in our culture matters because far too often, the breadth and depth of contributions made by Black women are pushed outside the margins of mainstream culture. In result, young Black girls don’t always get to see get to see diverse, layered and healthy representations of role models to emulate. I started Black Girls Rock to create a space where Black women and Black girls could proclaim our identities boldly and unapologetically.

Black Girls Rock is not just an ornamental phrase used to cloak ourselves in vanity. It is a critical and necessary affirmation… Saying that we rock is a response to the tremendous and neglect that Black girls feel when they grow up in a society where they were are misrepresented, underrepresented or completely overlooked. When they tune in to Black Girls Rock on BET, they get the message that Black Girls Matter.”

YES MA’AM, BEVERLY! Say ALLADAT. And say those words again!

First Lady Michelle Obama

The First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) graced Black Girls Rock with her attendance, and you could tell she was incredibly happy to be there. Her entire speech was a YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Michelle Obama Black Girls Rock 2

Image by @UnitedBlackout

“I am so excited to be here at Black Girls Rock! To all the young women here tonight, and all across the country, let me say those words again: Black girls rock! 

We rock! We rock! No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful, you are powerful, you are brilliant, you are funny! Let me tell you, I’m so proud of you. My husband, your president, is so proud of you. And we have such big hopes and dreams for every single one of you. Now I know that is not always the message that you get from the world. I know there are voices that tell you that you are not good enough. That you have to look a certain way, act a certain way. That if you speak up, you’re too loud. If you step up to lead, you’re being bossy.

When I was a girl, I had parents who loved me and believed in me but those doubts still worked their way into my head and my heart. I was always worried about something. Does my hair look right? Am I too tall? Do I raise my hand too much in class? When folks said a girl like me shouldn’t aspire to go to the best colleges, I thought maybe they’re right. But eventually I learned that each of those doubts was like a little test. A challenge that either I could shrink away from or rise up to meet and I decided to RISE. 

I decided to rewrite the tired old scripts that defines too many of us. I decided that I wasn’t bossy. I was confident and strong. I wasn’t loud. I was a young woman with something important to say. And when I looked into the mirror, I saw a tall and smart and beautiful Black girl. And THAT, more than anything else is what I want all of you to know. I want that for you. I want you to live life on your own terms, according to your own script. Use those tests in your life today to make you stronger for the bigger challenges tomorrow. Because trust me those challenges will come. 

Anyone who has achieved ANYTHING in life knows that challenges and failures are necessary components of success. They know that when things get hard, it’s not always a sign that you’re doing something wrong. It’s often a sign you’re doing something right. Because those hard times shape you into the person you’re meant to be.”

FLOTUS came to PREACHHHH and that was a word. Whew. Plus, she showed up looking like a tall glass of blessed and highly flavored chocolate milk in THAT DRESS. Chile, I LIVE. She is everything. EVERYTHING!

Jada Pinkett Smith

Will Smith showed up looking seventeen ways of FAHN! GOODT LAWDT. Whew. He was there to present his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith (@JadaPSmith), with the Star Power Award. Instead of reading what was scripted for him, he went off the cuff and talked from the heart. He talked about how he cannot imagine his life without her and it was adorable. When she walked on stage to get her award, they had this LONGGGG kiss and he cuffed her booty. THAT IS SO ROMANTIC! *swoons*

Anywho, Jada also came to drop some wisdom on the kids.

Jada Pinkett Smith Black Girls Rock

Image by @UnitedBlackOut

‘We are the women that marched from cotton fields into fields of medicine, politics, law, education, entertainment. We even found a way to march ourselves into the White House as the First Lady of the United States of America. And I say WE because it’s my belief that we do this together. Any achievement that any woman makes, is an achievement for us all. Any slight that any of us takes, is a slight to us all. And when we still have to read headlines in prominent magazines that the surge of people of color in TV may be too much of a good thing, we know we have a long way to go. This is what makes this night special.

We can validate each other and say you are enough as you are… As my little afro-futurist Willow tells me: “I am you. You are me. We are one.”‘

Cicely Tyson

Mother Cicely Tyson was giving the Living Legend award and she is a walking life manual. She is the Grand Dame of Epicness. And HER presence is now charity.

Cicely Tyson Black Girls Rock

“I was told I have 3 minutes to speak. Took me 3 minutes to get up here… To the young women here tonight: the moment anyone tries to demean or degrade you in any way, you have to know how great you are. No one is going to bother to put you down if you were not a threat to them. Respect yourself and the world will respect you. Respect elders. Remember that we are standing NOT on their shoulders but on their backs. We are the seeds of the work of our elders.”

YES MA’AM! I got chills.

Also, shoutout to the M.A.D. Girls who were highlighted: Kaya Thomas, Chental-Song Bembry and Gabrielle Jordan for their work as young innovators in tech, business and media .

Other highlights:

* Sheila E’s drum slayage – Sheila E SNAPPED on the drums during the opening performance, proving that she still (and will forever) got it! There aren’t many prominent female percussionists and Sheila has been around for a long time and continues to slay. She had the whole place on its feet when she was done and I was at home fist-pumping.

Jill Scott took the stage and sang the boots off You Don’t Know. That lady and her assortments of proper hairhats can sing the thesaurus and I’d be like YESSSSS. It’s not my fault. The girl brings soul into everything and I LIVE!

* Fantasia came with that GOOD squall. That child showed up and SANNNNNGGGG down with all she had. She brought it for the spirit, the saints AND the kids, and when she strutted off, I was spent.

* Estelle came on and sang “Conquerer” which you might have heard on Empire when she and Jamal did that duet. I love that song. If I worked out, I’d totally run to it.

Whew. This giant recap, doe. It was an amazing show as always. It was certainly tea for my fever and spirit fuel. If you missed it, check out the videos on the Black Girls Rock page on BET.com.

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31 Comments

  1. April 6, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I cried thug tears throughout this year’s show! Most of the performances were EVERYTHING and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who was getting life from Nadia Lopez’s speech AND the idea of Taraji playing her in a biopic (lol for a second, I was thinking my fangirling was going too far)!

    • April 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Same here, sis. The event was uplifting and well worth the trip to NY. I want to paint Nadia’s speech on a canvas and hang it up in the dining room. Remarkable.

  2. Krystal W
    April 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Let’s not forget Faith Evans singing J Cole’s Be Free. She made the song cry.

    • MissusMax
      April 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      yaaaaaaaasssss! I was applauding Faith while sitting on my couch like I was in the audience! You forget how silky her voice can be, but she brought that song allllll the way home!

  3. April 6, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Then a few days later, Jada decided to post this on Facebook-

    “The young thunder kittens aren’t the only ones that have it going on because we seasoned women ain’t play’n. There’s a whole lot of us too. I see you Taraji;) Let’s go get it!
    Let’s all go get it. Not only do Black Girls Rock!…all girls rock!!!”

  4. Party Starter
    April 6, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Didn’t see the enitre show but how did this recap forget Alicia Myers??????? I saw number and my girl from the D SANG that!!!

    • Lena
      April 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      You’ve got to see the entire show, it was so worth it. Check BET or CENTRIC for replay times.

  5. Stephanie
    April 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I didn’t see it! Easter dinner with the family was sans TV. Music, talking, laughs and bid whist only! So I set my DVR to record the next broadcast, just because of this recap! Thanks Luvvie!!

  6. nichole
    April 6, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    THIS IS THE AWARDS SHOW!
    The rest are tired. We knew that but Black Girls Rock! is the awards show all the rest should look up and and inspire to become. But they can’t!

    It had me from the first moment that stick hit the drum by Sheila E. to confirmation that we are family. Er’rything in betwixt!

    I’m waiting for the memes of all the quotes. We should just print them on business card size cards, keep them in our back pocket until we see a women of color and just pass her a card. Taking empowerment to the streets! “Here you go, girl. Just a little reminder that you rock.”

    • IJS
      April 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      A resounding YES! If someone passed a card featuring Lady Michelle with the words Black Girls Rock across the top I would love it.

    • StillSuga
      April 7, 2015 at 10:52 am

      YESSSSSSSSS to this idea. I need you to tweet that to Beverly Bond and this needs to be a thing.

    • April 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      What an amazing idea! I love it.

    • Heha
      April 9, 2015 at 1:26 am

      I support this 1000%!

  7. Hattie
    April 6, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I was waiting for Faith Evans and she did not disappoint. Loved it!

  8. whilome
    April 6, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I really needed this today. Thank ya for the recap!
    You put form and substance to the ether of my thoughts on the regular!

  9. April 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Jill’s hair hat assortments, though. Yes. I cried so much, felt my heart swell so many times throughout this show. It’s the best one yet. That I can look at my girls who are looking at me looking at these women, feeling inspired, was enough to make me know I need to get my life, do more.

    Also, TMURDA IN DA HIZZOUSE.

  10. SIPort
    April 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

    The entire show was magnificent. The speeches stirred the soul. The young ones highlighted were fabulous, and just made me happy.

    Principal Lopez brought so much joy and power.

    Cicely Tyson -did you not love when she was first introduced and FLOTUS stood up and was like ‘ the rest of you better recognize’.

    The love shown FLOTUS was just in every particle of air in that auditorium. I have loved having Barack Obama as our President. But, I admit, I love having Michelle Obama as First Lady even more.

    BLACK GIRLS ROCK!!

    • Lena
      April 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Omg! Me too! Michelle Obama just gives me life! I love her and you just know the woman knows who she is. And does not suffer fools either. She’s everything. Everything.

  11. StillSuga
    April 7, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I just LOVED this year’s show. I consider myself a pretty well affirmed black woman but my spirit was so lifted by all of it. This really is THE show of the year now. No looking for shenanigans, no tea, no shade, just love from beginning to end.

  12. Danni's mom
    April 7, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    BEST. SHOW. EVER! And the fact that I got to watch it with my Black Girl that Rocks! made it even better!

  13. Devra
    April 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Waving at FLOTUS and You Luvvie1 Proud Whitney Young Alum here! This article is so awesome it’s the only thing to say.

    • Linda
      April 8, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Thank you, this is my first time watching the Black Girls Rocks Award, what a well deserved recognition. It always felt like a lonely road for Black parents, encouraging their children to acknowlege their innate strenght in a country with an opposite, yet voiceful agenda against that awareness. A country devoting its time, money and technology dismissing a vital component, (Black people) of its fabric, also have centuries of success doing just that, undermining Black achievements . I have raised two successful young men, now raising a young 13 year old girl, timing couldn’t be better; I greatly appreciate the support.

  14. DallasDrumChick
    April 8, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    When Shelia E. came out and did her thing, I nearly stood up with my hand over my heart and sang “A Love Bizarre”. Anybody can see that she’s amazing, but you’d have to be a drummer to understand just HOW good she is. Like…she’s so good that I don’t even see the point in playing anymore.

    And seeing the First Lady singing along to Sheila E like so many black women have done for the past 20 years is like…she’s ours. Like, uniquely ours. Anyone is free to admire her, but Michelle is a black girl first and foremost. Just in case you were wanting to put her on that colorblind crap, our First Lady put you in your place AND I AM ALL FOR IT.

  15. Shakira Harris
    April 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    This was just comfort food for my mind, body, and spirit! Now excuse me while I bask in the infinite glory that IS being a BLACK WOMAN!

  16. May 31, 2015 at 11:06 am

    This great that girls are doing wonderful collectively these days, but – we need to remove the false and harmful belief of sheer genetics and effort as the cause; it is hurting everyone. We need to see everyone as very equal but greatly affected by their individual environments. Many of our Male peers are falling behind and it not due to laziness or genetics. If we look with more insight, we cannot help but see how the numbers of boys problems diminish greatly as we go up the socioeconomic ladder, even there they also falling slightly behind their female peers. As we go down the socioeconomic ladder, the numbers increase greatly. We need to also look at “much differential treatment of boys and girls beginning from infancy onward through adulthood. It is amazing to me that such differential treatment has not be looked at by the researchers. I imagine there are two reasons:
    1. The belief in genetics has blinded researchers to the great social causes of learning, motivation and academics.
    2.The present view of average stress sees stress as only occurring in some present situation, event, or work. We need to see how our average stress is made up many layers of past, present, future – experiences, fears, preparations for defense, needs, values of others, a host of unresolved mental work that remains with us we each carry as individuals as an average that take up real mental energy from thinking, learning, motivation to learn, and affects our mental/emotional health.

    The problem involves two entirely different treatments of Males and Females as early as one year of age and increases in differential treatment. This is creating the growing Male Crisis. The belief Males should be strong allows aggressive treatment of Males as early as one year, designed to create more layers of agitation, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with much “less” kind, stable, (very little verbal interaction) and less mental/emotional/social support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. This increases over time and continued by society from peers, teachers and others in society. This creates more social/emotional distance from parents and other authority figures who have knowledge; lags in communication, lower social vocabulary, poor sentence structure; also higher average stress: more layers of mental agitated conflicts and fears taking away real mental energy that hurt learning and motivation to learn; also more activity due to need for stress relief; also more social/emotional distance from adults/teachers, defensiveness and wariness of others further hindering emotional and social growth; and higher muscle tension (creating more pressure on pencil and tighter grip) that hurts writing and motivation to write. It creates much lag in development creating a learned sense of helplessness in school. This differential treatment continues through adulthood, almost fixing many Males onto roads of failure and escape into more short-term areas of enjoyment. Also society gives Males love and honor (essential needs for self-worth) only on condition of some achievement or status. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and even give their lives in time of war for small measures of love and honor. Males not achieving in school or other are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not an option for fear of coddling. Many Males thus falling behind in academics then turn their attention toward video games and sports to receive small measures of love/honor not received in the classroom. The belief boys should be strong and the false belief in genetics that denies any connection with differential treatment and lower academics, lower esteem, and other problems over-rides all good sense when it comes to raising boys today.
    As for reading, we need high social vocabulary, social experience with sentence structure, and “lower average stress to perform the abstract skill of reading: decoding, visualizing, organizing, reaching back into our social vocabulary to learn new words in print, and enjoying the process. Boys are deprived in these areas due to much less care, interaction, and more aggressive treatment in general.
    I feel the shows of masculinity, misbehavior are pretty much copouts to both show separation from failure in school and to gleam small measures of love and honor from peers. The defensiveness from authority is really pretty straight forward, especially in lower socioeconomic areas where strength, power, and status hold very real currency in those areas. So for those students it not just misbehavior but for them, a tug of war or fight for minimum feelings of self-worth from a continual fight they feel outside the classroom as well as in.
    The suicide epidemic is the result of Males being deprived sufficiently from those essential feelings of self-worth of less love and honor simply for being boys or men. The training they are given from an early age is preventing many of them from competing in the information age and thus losing the means to secure legally, income, status, power to earn in some way love and honor from society. This creates over time, psychological suffering that wears down their remaining feelings of self-worth to the point of suicide. As girls, we are treated much better and so enjoy more hope and care from society.
    Since we as girls by differential treatment are given much more positive, continual, mental, emotional/social support verbal interaction and care from an early age onward this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls compared with boys. We enjoy much more continuous care and support from infancy through adulthood and receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things: lower average stress for more ease of learning. We do enjoy much freedom of expression from much protection that makes us look less stable at times; we enjoy lower muscle tension for better handwriting/motivation; higher social vocabulary; lower average stress for reading/motivation; much more positive, trust/communication with adults, teachers, peers; and much more support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. The lower the socioeconomic bracket and time in that bracket the more amplified the differential treatment from a young age and increased and more differentiated over time. Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society, we are enjoying even more lavishing of love and honor, while boys and men still treated to be tough are failing more and are being given even more ridicule and abuse by society and yes, also by girls and women. My learning theory and article on the Male Crisis can be read from my home site.

  17. […] can check out websites like Huff Post Black Voices, Awesomely Luvvie, The Root, The Grio, and sooo many more. BuzzFeed video also produces some really interesting (and […]

  18. […] are fighting to share the experiences of other colored women, as seen in the television program Black Girls Rock. Through the contributions of many prominent African American women, colleges and universities are […]

  19. […] are fighting to share the experiences of other colored women, as seen in the television program Black Girls Rock. Through the contributions of many prominent African American women, colleges and universities are […]

  20. […] are fighting to share the experiences of other colored women, as seen in the television program Black Girls Rock. Through the contributions of many prominent African American women, colleges and universities are […]

  21. […] Black Girls Rock 2015 Was Everything: Recap with (Mostly) Full Quotes […]

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