The 49th NAACP Image Awards couldn't go down without acknowledging the power of Black women in politics, policy and protest.
During the awards ceremony, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lena Waithe, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Angela Robinson and Laverne Cox came out holding hands to address activist Tarana Burke's #MeToo Movement that's encouraging women and men to open up about being victims of sexual assault.
"We are America's Black women," Washington said, starting off the message. "Forces of nature," Ellis Ross added. The group said that black women had "always been on the front lines of change" and challenged viewers to "stand by us, stand for us, stand with us."
"Time's up on complaining about an imperfect system if we aren't willing to fix it, time's up on our silence, time's up on the abuse of power," the women said together acknowledging the newly created Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.
"The midterms are a perfect moment for us to use our voices," said Robinson.
"We cannot sit this one out. If we can take back a Senate seat in Alabama," Smollett-Bell said, to more applause, "then we have the ability to shift the balance of power." The women finished their speech by encouraging viewers to register to vote.
And change is coming.
ESSENCE reported in July, the current Congress has the largest number of Black women ever serving in the House of Representatives, and in the U.S. Senate, California’s Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to be elected in 20 years.
There are also more Black women seated in state legislatures: 266 compared to 256 at the end of 2015.