Among the many dignitaries that honored their invitations, the presence of U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who took to the stage to introduce Beverly Bond the “founder of Black Girls Rock” added value to the good efforts from the organizers.
The honorees are women and girls who made it through thick and thin to be where they are now. They are women who didn’t let discrimination, hate or abuse stop them; women who ran when others walked; and worked while others slept.
“Indeed, womanhood doesn’t mean weakness.”
Here are their speeches:
“Our differences, our colors, we’re like a garden. We’re all beautiful.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”