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Maxine Waters, Issa Rae, Yara Shahidi Honored at 2017 Black Girls Rock! Awards

Black girl magic was on full display at this past weekend’s taping of Black Girls Rock! Awards, an annual event that celebrates black women who are trailblazers, change makers or dynamos in various fields.

This year’s Black Girls Rock event honored Congresswoman Maxine Waters, as well as legendary soul singer Roberta Flack; “Insecure” creator Issa Rae; Grammy-winning artist Solange Knowles; Wall Street powerhouse Suzanne Shank; “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi and community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of the Black & Missing Foundation.

Oscar-nominee and star of Fox’s Empire Taraji P. Henson hosted the event, which was held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The women were honored in such fields as entertainment, politics, science and social justice.

“Auntie Maxine,” as she’s called by today’s young people, Waters has received increased notoriety this year for her sharp critiques of President Donald Trump. Her outspokenness has earned her the rebuke of many conservative media figures and outlets. In accepting her award, Waters spoke about her resiliency in speaking out against the Trump administration.

“I want you to know, if it was not for the love and respect shown to me by black women, those right-wing ultra conservatives … they would have me believe I’m too black, I’m too confrontational, I’m too tough, and I’m too disrespectful of them,” she said. “But now I know I’m simply a strong, black woman.”

Honoree Roberta Flack was celebrated with a duet from India.Arie and Tyrese, who sang Flack and Donny Hathaway’s popular 1970s duet, “Where Is the Love.” “Love is a song,” Flack told the crowd. “Each of you has a song in your heart,” the 78-year-old Flack said. “You keep singing that song.”

Other performers at the event included SZA, Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton and Tasha Cobb.
Each honoree was presented with their award by a male celebrity, including “black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson, soul singer Maxwell, “Insecure” star Jay Ellis and actor-singer Jussie Smollett.

Black Girls Rock! will air Tuesday, August 22 on BET.

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attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 backstage at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.

NEWARK, NJ - AUGUST 05:  CEO, Founder BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Beverly Bond speaks onstage during Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BET)

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Anika Noni Rose attends the Black Girls Rock! Awards at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)