This year’s Black Girls Rock award show took place in Newark, New Jersey at the Performing Arts Center Prudential Hall. The show gracefully highlighted the achievements of black women with the help of its lovely host, Queen Latifah. The awards opened up with a fantastic performance by Fantasia honoring the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. Fantasia’s voice had the entire crowd up out of their seats dancing with joy, demanding that they receive nothing but respect. The celebration of black female excellence began with the honoring of Lena Waithe with the “Shot Caller Award”.
Waithe was recognized for unapologetically changing the narratives that are common on television through her work such as, The Chi. Naomi Campbell was given the “Black Girl Magic Award”. After accepting her award Campbell stood confidently in front of the crowd and assured that “black girls are not a trend and they are here to stay”. The “Community Change Award” was rightfully given to the founder of the #MeTooMovement, Tarana Burke. For her continuous involvement and influence in the dance community, Judith Jamison was awarded the “Living Legend Award”. Having graced the art of dance for decades, Jamison continues to teach dance to young women. One of the most gracious rock stars off them all, Janet Jackson, took the stage to accept the “Rock Star Award”. Lastly, Mary J. Blige was awarded the “Star Power Award” for successfully “capturing the emotions and humanity of black women in her music for decades.” Throughout the night, young black women such as Naomi Wadler, Shanay Thompson, and Amanda Gorman were recognized as M.A.D Girls for their dominant roles as activists in their communities. The show also included capturing performances by artists such as H.E.R, Victory, Tamia, and Rapsody.
Due to the low voter turnout rates, the program also dedicated a segment about the importance of voting. Michelle Obama took over the show in a short video where she explained why voting matters. The former first lady states that women of color have the power to initiate real change and that begins with going to the polls. Since the show opened with a short tribute to Aretha Franklin, it was only right that it ended with an even greater one. Ledisi, Jazmine Sullivan, Cynthia Ervio, Stephanie Mills and Yolanda Adams, sang their hearts out to Franklin’s greatest hits. The rendition including, “I Never Loved a Man”, “Ain’t No Way”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “Until You Come Back To Me”, and “How I Got Over”. The entire crowd honored Franklin by dancing and singing along to all of the songs. This year’s Black Girls Rock award show was a success. Even from home, the energy and emotions present in the stadium could be felt. The importance of honoring black women specifically, resonated with everyone in the audience. The show recognizes the achievement of black women in a positive light and will continue to inspire young black women to do good in their communities. While the media is constantly lacking representation for our little black girls, Black girls Rock does otherwise.