How did Black Girls Rock get started?
I started in 2006. Originally it was going to be an idea that I had for a t-shirt. I was designing this t-shirt and writing down the names of so many black women who rocked; both currently and in history, and as I’m looking at these names of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Nikki Giovanni, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington, I remembered thinking this is just too big. This is bigger than me and this t-shirt.
It’s an affirmation to women, and I felt obligated to showcase this to the world and present an awards show to honor these incredibly powerful women who are continuing to make waves in history, yet go unrecognized in comparison to other women.
What was the message that you were trying to create?
Well I thought it was a disservice for the women who go unrecognized, and more so a disservice to our girls to not see how great we are. And if they don’t see how great they are, do they know how great they can become. That’s the reason I started it and I wanted to get that message across. I never looked back from that point. I knew that this was powerful, necessary and needed.
You were a DJ and extremely big in the entertainment industry. What did it mean for you to create this brand?
Well being in the industry, I was alarmed by some of the things that were being said and taught to our children; not just our girls but also our boys. I was considering how this was affecting our children, their relationships, self esteem and the way boys looked at our girls. How is this affecting the way boys are treating our girls and how girls are treating themselves. You see all of these things happening, hear all of these wild stories and you cannot pretend as if media messages don’t affect the way our children are brought up.
How would you define a “black girl that rocks”?
I wanted to give our girls a choice and say, “ let me show you what greatness really looks like,” Black Girls rock. I define that as having high standards, integrity and excellence. Let’s define that as understanding the importance of sisterhood, and understanding the importance of services; and that you are not here alone. Let’s define that as finding your spiritual purpose in life and that we are all here for a meaning.
Partnering up with BET, how did you get them on board with your vision?
Well, when I started BGR! back in 2006, I knew Stephen Hill from when I was a DJ at 106&Park and I asked him if he would be on my host committee. I was trying to get names of people I knew in the industry and Stephen was like “go ahead and use my name,” not even knowing what it was. So he came to the awards show and he wrote me back afterwards and said, “Beverly I’ve never been so inspired and so honored to have my name associated with something.” So that’s where the conversation began and over the years I always knew that BGR message needed to be on Black Entertainment Television! I felt that’s where the message was needed the most.