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Black Girls Rock!

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By Teresa Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Africa.com

What was 1984? Orwell's best known political novel, the Los Angeles Olympics, the Ethiopian famine, the year I graduated from college, and what else? 1984 was the first time black Americans had a television series that made us universally proud to be black Americans: The Cosby Show.

The Cosby Show featured an educated, loving, intact black family. Art by important African-American artists hung on the walls of their home. And most importantly, strong, smart, beautiful, opinionated black girls dominated that show: Clair, Sondra, Denise, Vanessa, and even little Rudy. I, for one, miss them.

On this coming Sunday night, November 7th, at 8 p.m. ET, beautiful, smart, strong and talented black girls will fill the airwaves, when Black Entertainment Television televises its first ever tribute to the power and influence of black women, BLACK GIRLS ROCK!.

Words can't describe how humbled and proud I am to have been honored with the Black Girls Rock! "Shot Caller Award" because of my work on Wall Street as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, my co-founding the Student Sponsorship Programme in South Africa (http://www.ssp.org.za), a non-profit that's helping to educate low-income but bright students, and for my leadership of Africa.com, the fastest growing online portal where the world goes to connect with all 53 countries on the African continent.

I write from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I am speaking at the African Leadership Network's inaugural gathering. This event is just one step on the long road of self-determination by black people globally. It is the equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos, but this time, the discussions have been organized by and for Africans and people of African decent.

This is a big week for a black girl who grew up before the Cosby girls were on television, before there was an Oprah Winfrey or First Lady Michelle Obama to inspire her, long before Ursula Burns became the chairwoman and CEO of Xerox, or Debra Lee became the president and CEO of Black Entertainment Television.

I relied for inspiration on the amazing black girls in my own family: my late grandmother, whose dignity, charm and wit will forever be traits I see to emulate; my mother whose selflessness, generosity and commitment to life long learning never cease to amaze me; and my Aunt Elvira, who has always supported and believed in me.

Do we need to celebrate black girls in 2010? Haven't we made enough progress?

The founder, CEO, and Executive Producer of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, Beverly Bond, thinks the need is urgent. "Our girls are not being told how amazing they really are or how amazing they really can be," Bond has said.

Bond founded her non-profit organization, Black Girls Rock, to mentor young girls and to combat negative images of black women in the media. She continued, "It is time that we start shouting out to the entire world that 'we' Black Girls Rock!"

I tried to echo Beverly's passion in my acceptance remarks and dedicated my award to black girls around the world who will watch the show: the African-American girl in Detroit, Michigan; the British Caribbean girl outside London; the Senegalese immigrant in Paris; the Nigerian girl in Lagos, and the coloured girl in South Africa.

Fortunately many of these girls will be able to see the show. In the United Kingdom, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! will air on Sunday, November 7th, at 8 p.m. GMT. In South Africa, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! will air on Saturday, November 13th, at 10 p.m. local time on BET, which is available on the new satellite platform, TopTV.

I want these young black girls to dare to fulfill their dreams, to dare to be whoever they want to be, to let no one else define what they can and can not do. And I predict that they will be great, that they will rock!

When I attend the 30th anniversary of the first Black Girls Rock in 2040, I plan to celebrate these women:
• the black women governors of some of the 50 United States,
• the black woman who has won the Nobel Prize in Economics,
• the black woman whose investment advice moves entire stock markets,
• the black woman whose research found a cure for AIDS,
• the black woman who created the technology we can't even imagine now, but will become the successor to the internet - a technology that will have a profound impact on everyone in the world, each and every day.

As I look at this historic city, the capital of Ethiopia, I can't help reflecting on the glorious past, sometimes tragic present and surely glorious future of black girls everywhere.

Yes, we do rock!

About the Author: Teresa Clarke is chairman and CEO of Africa.com, the fastest growing Africa-related internet site. Visitors have access to financial, political and cultural news, maps, information about world-wide events and non-profit organizations related to Africa as well as views from opinion-leaders.