Less than 24 hours after attending the 2015 Black Girls Rock! event at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, I’m still in awe of the tremendous inspiration and sisterhood that filled the room. The star-studded event, which occurred against the backdrop of Women’s History Month, was co-hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, who helped celebrate the accomplishments of women of color in education, social justice, music, literature and film. Honorees included New York City educator Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn; actresses Cicely Tyson and Jada Pinkett-Smith; singer Erykah Badu; and film director Ava DuVernay, whose Selma won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture; and Helene D. Gayle, M.D., president and CEO of CARE USA, a humanitarian organization.
While most award shows have an element of surprise, there was nothing more special than having perhaps the most prominent ‘Black girl that rocks’ take center stage: First lady Michelle Obama, who spoke at the event. "I know there are voices that you are not good enough," she said, acknowledging that she often lacked self-confidence growing up despite encouraging parents. “No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful. “I am so proud of you,” the first lady continued. “My husband, your president, is so proud of you. We have so much hope and dreams for you.”