Courtesy BETSunday night, Queen Latifah “set it off” as host of 2018’s Black Girls Rock.
The night, which honored the likes of Lena Waithe, Naomi Campbell, Tarana Burke, Mary J. Blige, Judith Jamison and Janet Jackson, was a rich celebration of women who, through their work and efforts, helped to define what it means to be a black girl who rocks.
Ava DuVernay presented Lena Waithe with the Shot Caller Award. Waithe shared some powerful words on the importance of the Cosby Show in her life and how she needed to cut her signature locks to “get free,” from other people’s constructs of her and her sexuality.
Naomi Campbell was up next to receive the Black Girl Magic Award. The supermodel noted that this was a history-making season for black women who graced the coveted covers of many of this year’s magazine issues. Campbell said the accomplishment “should be the norm” and not just “noteworthy.”
#MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke followed Campbell as the next award recipient. After accepting the Community Change Agent Award, Burke recalled how she wrote letters in 2007 to Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Fantasia and Gabrielle Union in hopes of getting her movement off the ground.
Mary J. Blige hit the stage as the next honoree. Receiving the Star Power Award, Blige shared a moving speech that touched on how music helped her deal with pain. “It took me a long time to know I rocked,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I know I’ve been rocking for years.”
Judith Jamison, the renowned dancer and choreographer and the current Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is best known for her iconic solo performance Cry, which was choreographed by the legendary Alvin Ailey. In her acceptance speech for the Living Legend Award, Jamison reminisced about her career and even joked that even a legend like herself still had to do “her laundry this morning.”
Last, but definitely not least, Janet Jackson took the stage to accept the Rock Star Award. In her speech, Janet honored those she felt also “rocked,” including the late, great Aretha Franklin.
Franklin, who passed away on August 16 from pancreatic cancer, was also honored on Sunday night.
Concerning performances at Black Girls Rock, Fantasia Barrino opened the show with an soul-stirring rendition of “Chain of Fools” and “Respect” that was definitely fit for the Queen of Soul. Later that night a second Aretha Franklin tribute took place featuring including like Jazmine Sullivan and Cynthia Erivo.
Other appearances during the star-studded night included Ciara, Power‘s Naturi Naughton, Misty Copeland, and Phylicia Rashad, as well as by Yolanda Adams, Tamia, H.E.R., and JAY-Z protege Victory Boyd.
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