Beverly Bond has blazed trails in the music, entertainment and social entrepreneurship industries. In 2006 Bond founded Black Girls Rock!, a youth empowerment mentoring organization. Bond simultaneously created the annual Black Girls Rock! Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and stand as inspirational and positive role models in the community.
Beverly recently sat down with The Hot Zone’s, Jason Robinson to talk about her career, what her inspiration was behind starting Black Girls Rock! and about the exciting 2015 Black Girls Rock! Awards Show airing Sunday April 5th at 7pm est/6pm ct on BET.
JR: It’s a pleasure to talk to you today Beverly, thanks for joining us and how are you?
BB: Great to be here, I’m awesome and thanks for having me.
JR: You are the Founder & CEO of “Black Girls Rock!”, what was your inspiration behind starting it?
BB: My inspiration was all the unsung heroes who I knew needed to be recognized, but are not always given the kind of platforms they need or deserve in media.
JR: Tell us about your 2015 Black Girls Rock! Awards show airing on BET Sunday, April 5th.
BB: This is our ninth year in existence and our fifth year on TV. We are super excited about this year with a great group of honorees and celebrants like our MAD girls, who are our young girls who are making a difference in the world. They prove that the age doesn’t matter as long as you commit to doing something positive for others. These girls understand the importance of service at an early age, and I think that’s an important message for our viewers to understand. We also have Cicely Tyson (Living Legend Award), Erykah Badu (Rock Star Award), Ava DuVernay (Shot Caller Award) and more. We really do have a great variety and group of women who are a part of our show. We also have Dr. Helene D. Gayle (Social Humanitarian Award) who is number forty on the Forbes list and the CEO of CARE, a leading research company in AIDS and poverty. And of course Jada Pinkett Smith (Star Power Award) and such a lovely lady with a beautiful family. It was great to see her husband present her an award on stage and lend his support as well. I am just ecstatic about everything about this award show!
JR: What does it mean to you to have the First Lady, Michelle Obama be a part of the awards show?
BB: It’s absolutely amazing personally, and my mother is very proud of me. The beautiful thing is that Mrs. Obama and I are reinforcing each others messages. Her initiative Reach Higher is about helping our children understand at an earlier age the importance of education and taking it all the way through and continuing to reach higher. And Black Girls Rock! is all about excellence and integrity and raising your bar and understanding the importance of work ethic and discipline. Our goals and initiatives are very similar, so her message of smart girls rock is a very important one. Mrs. Obama’s annointment of the work that we do is going to take this message of black excellence to the next level.
JR: How did you get the First Lady to be involved and present at the show though, did you reach out to her?
BB: (laughs) Well, I don’t personally have her on speed dial or anything like that. We have been interested in having her be a part of the show for a while, but we knew she was the First Lady and the time had to be just right, so we had to be patient. She is an incredible woman, so it was never a question to me in my mind that she would come. Now that it is towards the end of her term, the time was now right.
JR: How did you get BET to get involved with Black Girls Rock! and airing the Awards show?
BB: Black Girls Rock! was a thriving awards show before we got to TV and various TV stations were interested and courting us. We always knew that BET was where we belonged and Stephen Hill from BET was very instrumental in making it happen as he was a friend before I went to the network. He was actually on my hosting committee for my 2007 awards and was really honored to be a part of it and believed whole heartedly in what Black Girls Rock! was all about. He was so proud to have his name be part of the awards show, that in 2010 we came to an agreement for it to come to BET, and here we are.
JR: What’s the most important message you want young black girls to take away from Black Girls Rock!?
BB: They need to know and have confidence that they are not on the back burner, that they are not second place and to be proud that the skin they are born in is beautiful. They are all beautiful in their own magnificence, and this message is not being sent to young black girls, and it needs to be. When they get this message early in life, it makes a huge difference in their future. We don’t want them picking the white doll when asked which one is prettier. Black is beautiful, and they need to know that.
JR: Speaking of the white doll, what’s your thoughts on the whole Twitter trend #WhiteGirlsRock which claims Black Girls Rock! is racist?
BB: I think the racism is showing in the people who are trying to shoot down an organization that shows the greatness of contributions that women of color have made to the world. I mean, this show is on a station called Black Entertainment Television (Laughs) I think it fits. We are allowed to do everything else, cause I don’t remember these people protesting when the images were not so stellar. Now we have positive images and women of color doing great things and now they say it’s racist. I mean just because we want to honor all our contributions and greatness and service, they want to call it racism? This is all very telling to the level of white privilege, they are saying that we can’t love ourselves. We are not saying that because we rock that you don’t, we never said that. Let us love and celebrate ourselves without crying racism. Every culture raises their kids to be proud of who they are and celebrates their culture, but when black people do it, somehow it becomes a big fear. This is a very interesting space that we need to pay attention to. Another thing we need to pay attention to is, we need to stay in power. We need to stay excellent, not just for ourselves, but for our people, our kids and for our next generation.
JR: Tell us about Black Girls Leads Conference?
BB: We’re going to do a three-day global girls leadership conference for teen girls between the ages of 13-17 from all over the world. It’s an intensive program featuring signature Black Girls Rock! programs including: the DJ Turntable Lab, Empowerment Circle, ‘Diggin’ in the Crates’, Girls Rock! Tech, Taste the World culinary series, Guitar Clinic and other workshops such as the College Prep Panel, Financial Literacy 101, Global Leaders’ Forum, Spoken Work master class and more. It is designed to advance young women’s leadership development, academic achievement and excellence in civic engagement, entrepreneurship, innovation technologies, philanthropy and social action. It’s an incredible three-day experience for our leaders of the new school. This is the first year we are doing the conference. The conference will take place from July 13-15, 2015 at the prestigious Columbia University in the city of New York.
JR: What’s the most important message you want you want your girls to get from the Black Lead Conference?
BB: I want them to walk away with the message that they have a responsibility as members of society to contribute. They have to understand they are here to make a difference in some way. They need to find out who they are, recognize their gift and pass it on to others while also growing into their own greater selves.
JR: I know you’re a DJ and love music, so what’s Beverly Bond listening to right now music wise?
BB:Right now I would say D’Angelo and Black Messiah, oh and of course Kendrick Lamar with his new album “To Pimp A Butterfly”. I also love Jazmine Sullivan and Rapsody. All those artists are great to me to listen to.
JR: I know you have to run, but when you are not working, whenever that may be (laughs), what do you do for fun?
BB: I think mostly I DJ, even if I am just doing it in my house or my office. Sometimes I just have to break out and play some music. Yeah sometimes I just get in the mood to bust out and play a set (laughs). I love my life and love my work, so whether I’m empowering girls or DJ’ing it’s all fun to me. I am married, so I have a great home life as well…I am blessed.
JR: If there is one bit of advice you would give to all young girls of all ethnicities to achieve their dreams, what would it be?
BB: I would say take one step at a time and enjoy the process of getting there. We live in an instant word where kids are taught to find everything right away, from fame to love to relationships, and it’s not instant. It’s a process, so they need to take the time to enjoy the journey and making sure they dot their I’s and cross their T’s, the journey itself is the beautiful part.
JR: It’s been great talking to you Beverly, all the best to you on everything that you do. Thanks so much for talking to me today, you are truly an inspirational woman..you rock Beverly (laughs)
BB: Thank you very much Jason, it was all my pleasure and a lot of fun.
On Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 7pm Est/6pm Ct tune in to BET Networks as it returns with the fifth annual “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” paying tribute to six groundbreaking women in the areas of entertainment, education, philanthropy, and health. Hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King return to the show for their fourth year along with honorees Jada Pinkett Smith (Star Power Award), Ava DuVernay (Shot Caller Award), Cicely Tyson (Living Legend Award), Erykah Badu (Rock Star Award), Nadia Lopez (Change Agent Award) and Dr. Helene D. Gayle (Social Humanitarian Award).