BET figured out that the night of Easter was the perfect time to air Black Girls Rock!, their annual special in honor of the movement founded by DJ Beverly Bond to affirm and shape young women. First Lady Michelle Obama made her first appearance at the awards show, now in its fifth year.
Hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King for the fourth year in a row, the honorees for this year’s Black Girls Rock!, taped live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark March 28, were actress/Annie producer Jada Pinkett Smith (Star Power Award), Selma director Ava DuVernay (Shot Caller Award), Cicely Tyson (Living Legend Award), Erykah Badu (Rock Star Award), Brooklyn Principal Nadia Lopez (Change Agent Award), head of CARE Dr. Helene D. Gayle (Social Humanitarian Award). In addition, Procter and Gamble sponsored M.A.D. (Making a Difference) Girls Chental-Song Bembry (creator/author/illustrator of the Honey Bunch Kids book series, Gabrielle Jordan (author/founder of ExCEL Youth Mentoring/youngest Great Black Speakers Bureau member) and Kaya Thomas (creator of the We Read Too app featuring literature for and by people of color). Performers included legendary drummer Sheila E., Jill Scott, honoree Erykah Badu, Fantasia, Faith Evans, Lalah Hathaway, Estelle, Ciara and classics from Alicia Myers, Cheryl Lynn and Kathy Sledge.
But the inspiring words were the real stars of the night. For more highlights, head over to BET.
Photos: Brad Barket, BET/Getty Images for BET