Beverly Bond is a DJ, entrepreneur, and creator of Black Girls Rock! "Black Girls Rock" has become synonymous with "Black Girl Magic," two mantras that have taken the world by storm, affirming the power that Black women and girls possess. Founded in 2006, Black Girls Rock! is a movement, a nonprofit, a national (soon to be global) awards show, and a book of essays and affirmations.
While a popular DJ in 2006, Beverly decided to launch Black Girls Rock!, an idea that originally started with just a t-shirt. Remembering this concept she came up with over a decade ago, she says, "I think that at the time, the images of women of color were limited, very stereotyped, objectified and sometimes degrading or absent and marginalized. And it was always a conversation that was going on amongst women, especially women in entertainment." Because of this, Beverly decided to write down names of Black women who had "rocked" throughout history. From Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé, the more names she wrote down, the more she realized many of their stories had yet to be told. She continues, "I started to recognize that there wasn't a platform that really elevated our stories in ways in which other women were being recognized for their accomplishments in the world. That was one thing. The other thing was that obviously popular ones like Beyoncé were recognizable, but there were so many other women who were contributing to the greatness of this world throughout our history who hadn't been recognized or who hadn't been elevated or whose stories hadn't been told. I felt immediately that this was bigger than my t-shirt idea; this is actually an affirmation that all Black women need to hear because we haven't heard it. That's how it started. From that passion and from that moment I was like I have to do this."
Inspired and motivated to begin sharing and highlighting these stories she speaks of so passionately, Beverly immediately began planning the first Black Girls Rock! award show to celebrate Black women who were trailblazers, change makers, or dynamos in their respective fields. Many don't know that the Black Girls Rock! award show began in 2006 as a small show quickly growing to a larger event hosted at Lincoln Center in New York City. She describes the moment she found out that the award show would be broadcasted on a national scale via BET saying, "Wow! This is going to change the way in which we see ourselves - that's the most important thing. We are going to reject this other story that they have put on us and the limited narrative of who we are. We're going to be able to own our magic, rock our truth, and say 'we rock!' In that moment I was just like 'Oh my God, this is amazing!'"
Beverly was well aware that this idea was much bigger than herself, and her tunnel vision and ambition is what brought Black Girls Rock! to life. Not just her ambition, but her steadfastness in taking back the stories of Black women to be told by Black women themselves. "You know people have tried to talk about our images. I'm not the first person to do it and certainly won't be the last, but I think that what I was able to do was create a space where it didn't matter what others had to say. It was us affirming ourselves. And then I think because I am a DJ, I was able to do it in a way that people could receive it. I figured out a way to make it cool. To make it acceptable, to make it sexy. I think that it was so much of that you didn't even see the activism and revolution in it," she says. In this case, the revolution was and is being televised. The show has aired seven years, garnering millions of viewers who've heard "I'm a Black girl and I rock."
The revolution she speaks of is the movement of Black women across the world stepping up to demand change, while asking and oftentimes taking, their seats at the table. Beverly is happy to see that the work Black Girls Rock! has done so far, has helped contribute to this paradigm shift. She says, "I think that seeing us - 'reclaiming our time' as Maxine Waters says it - in so many different ways and so many different spaces from sports to top music to art to politics to services, I think Black women are stepping up in such huge ways. And it's not like we haven't been doing this work, I think we've always been doing this work, we're just starting to get recognized for it." She continues, "I'm excited about respecting our collective journey and supporting each other in the ways that we are."
As much as Beverly shared about where Black Girls Rock! is today and how it has influenced change and empowered women so far, her hopes and dreams for the movement branch further out. For Black Girls Rock!, the sky is the limit. One of their bigger initiatives that she's looking to further scale up the non-profit organization through the mentorship program (that she launched in 2008) because she's seen what a difference it makes in those young girls' lives. "We are moving and trying to get bigger and better," she says. "We are working on a few things. One of them is - we're building a center in Newark, New Jersey with the city, that we're very excited about." And if you thought things were slowing down with the award show, you're in for a surprise. She continues," In terms of the award show, we're going global. We're launching our Black Girls Rock! Africa award show this year, so we're excited about that. It's a Pan-African show - we're trying to touch upon the entire continent and women of the diaspora from all over. It's exciting. It's a big thing, but it's exciting."
Though very confident with a ton of wins under her belt, Beverly took a moment to reflect about her journey and any advice she'd give her younger self. She says, "I wouldn't change anything. I would say pay attention to the pitfalls as well as the accomplishments. I think that there is something to learn in all of it. Especially, what you may see as pitfalls are actually stepping stones to help you get to your next level." And what she wants her legacy to be? Everything that Black Girls Rock! stands for. She says, "That I worked relentlessly to remix the image of the Black girl." She continues, "I believe that shining a much-needed spotlight on the brilliance, power, complexities, and beauty of Black women through Black Girls Rock! is my assignment, but if I had to add to that I would say, I would like my legacy to be that I was (a) visionary and dedicatedmy service to humanity. I would like it to be said that I did God's work and that I was a dope DJ who kind of changed the game."
There are many ways to get involved with Black Girls Rock! Visit the website and be sure to follow Black Girls Rock! on social media to learn more. Another way to get involved is through Black Girl Rock! Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth, a book edited by Beverly that features amazing women that she can't always feature during the awards show. She's inspired by all 60 women featured in the book, and she's sure you'll find some inspiration too.