Black Girls Rock is all about showing young women of color that they can grow up to do great things.
Beverly Bond, a deejay, founded the group six years ago and it’s been gaining steam ever since. For the second year in a row, the annual awards ceremony will be televised on BET. It airs Sunday at 8 p.m.
From top to bottom, women are in charge. There’s a female host, an all-female house band. And the CEO of the network airing the show is Debra L. Lee, who still remembes the reaction of women when she was named to the top job in 2005.
“I got a lot of admiration of women and a lot of high fives in the hallway and that’s when I realized it was still very unusual for women to reach that level in corporate America,” she said.
Among those being honored this year is actress Taraji P. Henson, artist Missy Elliot and WNBA President Laurel J. Richie, who is the recipient of the ‘shot caller,’ award.
Richie wasn’t sure of how her name got to the selection committee, but she said was “really, really excited.” As the former chief marketing officer for Girl Scouts of America and now head of the WNBA, Richie is no stranger to working around women with a cause.
As she made her climb, Richie was often the only woman and the only African American in the room.
“My parents were both sort of trailblazers and raised me in a way to believe that I had the right and the skills to do whatever I chose to do in life,” Richie said. “So while I didn’t welcome the opportunity to be the only one, I gladly assumed the role of trailblazer.”
But she also recognizes the for young women to have strong role models.
“Anytime you look up and see somebody who you can relate to whether that’s based on gender, race or religion, it’s a little easier to imagine yourself on that position and that position feels just a little bit more attainable,” Richie said.
Lee said she is proud that BET is closely linked to Black Girls Rock.
“The award show itself is about recognizing the brilliance of black women and girls in their community,” she said.
Lee is a former board member of Girls Inc., participated in Fortune’s most powerful women summit and two years ago created a conference in D.C. two years ago called ‘Leading Women Define.’
“I called 100 of the most powerful women I know to talk about health, education, and administration needs,” Lee said. “Empowering women have a lot to say about different issues, we can get together and do things men do.”
Lee said she is inspired by women like First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University.
“Young girls today are interested in a lot of different areas,” she said. “I think our girls have seen a wide variety in different careers, range of possibilities that may have existed when I was young.”