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5 Empowering Quotes From BET’s ‘Black Girls Rock’ Honorees

By Joi-Marie McKenzie, ABC News

Singer Rihanna and Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s hit shows “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” were among the honorees at BET’s annual women’s empowerment awards show, “Black Girls Rock” on Friday.

Held inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, the awards show, hosted by “Blackish” star Tracee Ellis Ross, gathered hundreds to honor women who are change agents in music, television, politics, culture and theater.

Along with Rihanna and Rhimes, other awardees included iconic singer Gladys Knight, “The Hunger Games” actress Amandla Stenberg, “The Walking Dead” actress and playwright Danai Gurira and Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also took the stage to introduce “Black Girls Rock” founder Beverly Bond.

Each woman who took the stage at the show, which will air Tuesday on BET, gave the audience powerful messages of self-acceptance and self-care along with advice on how to forge their own path.

Here are some of the best gems dropped Friday night that you may want to write down:


“The thing that’s kept me successful is being myself. I only know how to do that…And the minute you learn to love yourself you would not want to be anybody else. 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.”

Gladys Knight

“Our differences, our colors, we’re like a garden. We’re all beautiful.”

Shonda Rhimes

“For those of us up here on the stage, our careers have been named. Our paths have been chosen. We have picked our mountains and we have started to climb it. Because the minute someone starts giving you awards, you are more history than future. Your slates are blank. Your paths are clear and your stories are whatever you decide they’re going to be. You are the builders of the 21st century. You have a right to the universe. You were given then right simply by being born. So you already rock.”

Amandla Stenberg

“I remember looking in the mirror when I was a little girl and looking at all that hair and being like, ‘Why is that there?’ I wanted it to go down so much. I remember suppressing it and brushing it and being so frustrated that I was so big and so bold. I felt like I took up too much space. But because of those women [who raised me], I have learned that…my blackness does not inhibit me from being beautiful and intelligent. In fact it’s the reason why I am beautiful and intelligent.”

Danai Gurira

“I know it can get tough out there. It can get downright ugly. I have walked the path or some version of it but know that you are designed for greatness. You have a resilience that is in your DNA…whether you want it or not. You are what the world is waiting for. Whether the world acknowledges that or not. Step into your uniqueness. Protect it. Nurture it. It is precious. No one can do what you can do or contribute what you are destined and designed to contribute.”

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