As has been the case for the last few years, Black Girls Rock!—the annual celebration of all things black and female—didn’t disappoint. The venue was packed to the rafters with black celebrity women and others of note, with black women and their daughters, nieces and sister-friends coming together in celebration.
Singer Rihanna, TV mogul Shonda Rhimes; Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi; and actresses Amandla Stenberg and Danai Gurira were among the honorees at this year’s event, held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
Host Tracee Ellis Ross, star of ABC’s Black-ish, kicked off the show with a hilarious and impressive dance number, channeling Rihanna, Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson and her mother, Diana Ross, reports ABC News.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even got in on the action, introducing Beverly Bond, the founder of Black Girls Rock!
Clinton, who has been in the New York City area campaigning ahead of the April 19 primary, earned cheers when she called black women “change-makers and path-makers and ground shakers,” according to ABC. She also said “my life has been changed by strong black women leaders.”
Singer Rihanna also had heartfelt words, saying, “Thank you so much for celebrating us in a world that doesn’t celebrate us enough,” as she accepted her Rock Star Award.
The Barbados-born singer also thanked her mother and grandmother for being strong black women and excellent role models, and then spoke about herself as one: “Role model is not the title they like to give me … [but] I think I can inspire a lot of young women to be themselves and that is half the battle.
“Hopefully one day I’ll be raising my own little black girl who rocks,” she added.
Producer Rhimes brought her daughter to the event, as did singer Monica, who brought her little girl onstage. Other performers included Brandy, Andra Day, Jazmine Sullivan, Marsha Ambrosius, Corrine Bailey Rae and Imani Uzuri.
Gladys Knight, who received the Living Legend Award, performed a medley of her hits.
“It is the best award, the greatest trophy that I’ve ever received,” said Knight. “More than a Grammy. More than so many other awards that I’ve gotten that I appreciate.”
Debbie Allen, Kelly Rowland, Cissy Houston, Erykah Badu, Tatyana Ali and Teyonah Parris were also in the house.
Black Girls Rock! will air on BET on Tuesday.
Read more at ABC News.