When my aunt passed away over 10 years ago, I started receiving her mail, which included her monthly Essence magazine. It was one of the best gifts. There were some issues that I read cover to cover. I still have the edition where Viola Davis graces the cover with a short afro on a deep turquoise background. I learned how to enjoy the summer in the 2015 “Your Sexiest Summer Ever” edition and carried it with me that summer to remind me of great ways to enjoy the season. In another edition I read from cover to cover, I recall one of the very last articles teaching me to not run from things but excitedly run to things in life. That was one of my first introductions to Lisa Nichols. I was enlightened by the interview with Erykah Badu. I learned to embrace my femininity by seeing Jada Pinkett-Smith grace the cover and have a very classy spread. Through informative articles and respectable examples, Essence helped me embrace my femininity and brought out the fabulous, classy. sophisticated, well-rounded woman in me — much like what I had always admired in my late aunt.
I always looked forward to reading Essence. After cleaning my house on a Saturday or Sunday, I would pamper myself with a bath and luxurious loungewear and sit in my favorite spot so elegantly to take in my monthly lesson on all things Black Woman. Essence elevated my thinking about my life by teaching me how to best live my life through travel, beauty, and life advice.
I became so engaged that I attended the Essence Festival in 2015. With no expectations, I set out on a solo trip to New Orleans to take it all in. I enjoyed seeing so many of us walking around in our classy and colorful dresses, rompers, and attire. I loved seeing so many Black vendors. I excitedly saw great celebrities — from Loni Love telling us about her transition from engineering to entertainment to Kelly Rowland as she slipped into an elevator like a magic goddess. My favorite was Steve Harvey, who took over his interview (that poor interviewer only got to ask two questions) and gave an impromptu motivational speech, including showing us his vision board on his phone. It was pure gold!
That night, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Superdome going from my seat at the main stage to various small stages and lounges. In one night, I saw…