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Angela Bassett Gives An Empowering Speech As She Accepts The Icon Award | Black Girls Rock 2019


– Y’all remember this, with
the flick of the cigarette? [cheers and applause] She inspired generations
of female empowerment. When you see that give,
you know it’s going down. [laughter]
Okay? Angela Bassett, my sister, you devour every role you play, taking no prisoners
and knowing no bounds. Angela,
you’re the queen mother of Wakanda. [cheers and applause] And you’re our queen
in real life. [exhales sharply]
This year’s recipient of the “Black Girls Rock!”
Icon Award, the incomparable
Angela Bassett. [cheers and applause] [upbeat music playing] ♪ ♪ [cheers and applause continue] – Whoo! [laughs] Hey, sisters, you good? [cheers and applause]
You look good. You look good. You look like
a letter from home. [laughter] I always look forward to watching
the “Black Girls Rock!” Awards. It’s such a special night of tribute
and recognition of us. So it means so much for me
to be here with you tonight. I’m often asked in interviews if my portraying smart, strong
women throughout my career has been on purpose. And thinking about what to say
to you tonight, the word “purpose”
and what it means has filled my spirit. We all have purpose, even if we’re still striving
to understand what that is. When I decided as a teenager
that acting would be my path, whether I recognized it or not, I was walking
towards my purpose. As a young actress
trying to make my way, survival figured
into the equation, but not so much that I was ever willing
to compromise my integrity. [cheers and applause] It hasn’t always been easy. And there have been
tough times– days when the phone
didn’t ring, even after “What’s Love
Got to Do with It”… [man shouts indistinctly] As well as moments
of uncertainty and of doubt. But what women
like my mother, Betty Jane, and my aunt, Golden, taught me is that there will be times when you seemingly face
insurmountable obstacles, but that’s when you dig deep
into your soul for the courage
and the fortitude… to keep going and to never… to never forget that despite
life’s detours, you are destined
for greatness. [cheers and applause] My purpose tonight is to say thank you. Thank you
to my beautiful family, to my husband, Courtney, to my children,
Bronwyn and Slater, for giving me the opportunity and the space to be
a black girl who rocks. [cheers and applause] Thank you to BET and to Beverly Bond and to everyone who works
so hard to bring us together for this momentous
annual celebration. It’s imperative that we
continue to support events that lift us up, that recognize
our contributions, and that help us feel
a connectivity, allowing us
to see one another, even when we sometimes
can’t see ourselves. [cheers and applause] I accept this award in the names of the iconic
women who have inhabited me, who have empowered me,
inspired me, strengthened me, and elevated me. Thank you, Rosa Parks. Thank you, Tina Turner. Thank you Coretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz,
Katherine Jackson. Thank you, Voletta Wallace. I say their names, because when you
show gratitude, you’re able to remember
that you didn’t arrive in this place on your journey
by yourself. [cheers and applause] Oh, you had help. You had support. You had guidance. And it’s this community
that feeds our souls when we’re running on empty. So, when you’re told
you’re not good enough, you tell them, “Not only am I good enough, I’m more than enough.” [cheers and applause] When they say,
“Send her back home,” you tell them, “I am home. “I am the foundation of what we call home.” [cheers and applause] When they tell you
that you’re angry or nasty… you tell them
that they’re mistaken. “This is me. “This is me being resolute and standing firmly
in my truth.” [cheers and applause] And when they say
you’re not beautiful, you tell them that you are the descendent…
[scoffs] Of royalty… and you… are… a queen. [cheers and applause] Look at all these queens! Look at all
these queens, Regina! [cheers and applause continue] I would encourage you to take
this experience with you as you go about
your respective journeys, knowing that we were present
for one another tonight. [cheers and applause] Freedom fighter Sojourner Truth
is one of my personal heroes. So I’ve chosen to close
my time here with you tonight with her words. If the first woman
God ever made was strong enough to turn
this world upside down… [scattered cheers] These women together ought to be able
to turn it right again. [cheers and applause] So, sisters… sista, we have much work to do. And together
we are unstoppable. Always remember
that our voices, the very power
that we hold individually, and all of us collectively, it does matter. [cheers and applause] Now is not the time
to be silent. Find your purpose, pursue it relentlessly, passionately, and loudly.
[laughs] Be persistent… and win. I love you. We are all
black girls who rock. [cheers and applause] Thank you again
for honoring me tonight. If be for you, who can be against you? [cheers and applause] [upbeat funky music playing]
♪ ♪

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