RiRi was bestowed the Rock Star Award for her entrepreneurial spirit and success in both the fashion and music worlds. The Bajan beauty thanked her mother and grandmother for being strong role models in her life. She also thanked Black Girls Rock! organizers for honoring women of color.
“Thank you so much for celebrating us in a world that doesn’t celebrate us enough,” she said (via Associated Press). “The minute you learn to love yourself you will 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,” she added. “Hopefully one day I’ll be raising my own little black girl who rocks.”
Gladys Knight, who performed a selection of her classic songs, was presented with the Living Legend Award. “It is the best award, the greatest trophy that I’ve ever received,” she told the crowd. “More than a Grammy. More than so many other awards that I’ve gotten that I appreciate.”
The Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also made appearance and saluted black women for being “change makers and pathmakers and ground shakers.”
Other honorees included television producer Shonda Rhimes (Shot Caller Award), The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira (Star Power Award), actress and activist Amandla Stenberg (Young Gifted and Black Award) and Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi (Community Change Agent Award).
Among the performers who rocked the mic included R&B singers Monica, Brandy, Andra Day, Jazmine Sullivan, Marsha Ambrosius and a surprise performance from Lauryn Hill.
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross did a phenomenal job hosting Black Girls Rock! 2016, which will air on BET on Tuesday (April 5) at 8PM ET.