Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill

People across the globe are celebrating Women’s History Month in March, and Black Girls Rock (BGR) will accordingly host a three-day event in D.C. to kick off the honorary period.

Founded in 2006, BGR has evolved into a leading platform, uplifting Black women from diverse career paths and accomplishments to the public eye. The organization has built a powerhouse of exposure and inclusion over the years as it hosts an annual award show honoring Black women leading the way for others through career and humanitarian efforts.

“When I started Black Girls Rock in 2006, this space wasn’t so open for us to occupy many places, so I think that it is only natural that there is a celebration of International Women’s Day weekend, that is led by Black women,” said Beverly Bond, renowned DJ and BGR founder and CEO. “All are invited, but Black women are leading. … Having this festival in Washington, D.C., during International Women’s Day weekend is strategic and important for our continued elevation.”

The Kennedy Center is partnering with BGR for a second year to host the three-day event with a concert headlined by Lauryn Hill and featuring D.C.’s own Alice Smith. The two-night concert will be followed by a conversation series on March 7.

“We’re really excited to continue the partnership with BGR,” said Simone Eccleston, director of Hip-Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at the Kennedy Center in D.C. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to celebrate Black women’s contributions to arts and culture.”

During the inaugural year of the BGR festival, the Kennedy Center Hip-Hop Council committed themselves to presenting the event as a part of Women’s History Month. The council continues that tradition this year, pushing their commitment to a year-round celebration of Black women and expanding the BGR festival.

“Last year was our inaugural year and it definitely demonstrated the impact of community and being able to provide space for women to continue to bond with each other, exchange information, and share resources — there were some really insightful conversations,” Eccleston said.

Bond is also a member of the council, which was assembled in 2016 to create a home for influencers and pioneers to build creative concepts and projects.

“It is necessary and important to us to continue to push the envelope to make sure that we are represented,” Bond said. “The next generations that are coming up are growing up in a world where they see representation. That changes your entire level of confidence, and we’ve got to keep that going.”

Eccleston stressed the importance of the Kennedy Center continuing their core commitment to celebrating Black Women and their contributions to Art and Culture. The center’s Hip Hop Council includes genre luminaries such as Questlove, MC Lyte and others.

The three-part conversation series feature various Black women in the entertainment and business industries, including actress Naturi Naughton, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and several other female entrepreneurs.

“I thought it was very important for us to talk about Black women’s safety and make sure that we were talking about news here that is related to us — especially considering that a lot of our stories are still not being recognized in a certain way as other victims of sexual assault and abuse, when we know that the numbers are alarming,” Bond said.

The BGR brand has proven itself as a significant and important staple for the culture, inspiring Bond to continue using the festival as an expansion of the work of those in the forefront and behind the scenes of the organization.

“Beverly is such an incredible visionary, and she is so selfless in regard to her commitment to Black women and ensuring that they’re celebrated and recognized, and have a safe and supported space,” Eccleston said.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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