Saturday’s Black Girls Rock!, an annual celebration of women and girls of color, was a star-studded event with A-List speakers and performers, including Estelle, Ava DuVernay and Will Smith. But the largest applause was reserved for the first lady herself, Michelle Obama.
While Obama wasn’t being honored at the event, she delivered a powerful message to young girls to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful," Obama said. "I am so proud of you. My husband, your president, is so proud of you. We have so much hope and dreams for you,” she told the crowd full of black women and girls.
Obama, who just returned from a trip to Japan as part of the Let Girls Learn education initiative, emphasized the importance of education. "There is nothing more important than being serious about your education," she told the crowd. "That's why I am able to stand here tonight ... I want every one of our black girls do to the same, and our black boys."
She also spoke to the lack of confidence in that girls can face, saying, "I know there are voices that you are not good enough. Each of those doubts was like a test that I either shrink away from or rise to meet. And I decided to rise."
The event honored successful women of color from several backgrounds and fields including Jada Pinkett Smith, singer Erykah Badu, actress Cicely Tyson, "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, educator Nadia Lopez and Dr. Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA.
Sisterhood , support and self-esteem were all on full display during the event. The crowd grooved to Sister Sledge’s iconic hit “We Are Family,” singing “I got all my sisters with me!” When actress Regina King tripped up on a line, Obama gave her a supportive hug. "I've got Mrs. Obama pumping me up!" she laughed.
Founded by musician Beverly Bond in 2006, Black Girls Rock! Inc. is a non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization established to promote the arts for young women of color, as well as to encourage dialogue and analysis of the ways women of color are portrayed in the media.
The entire event will air or BET on April 5th.