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Susan L. Taylor: "Everything I Learned In The Past Has Led To This Point"

Source: Courtesy of Susan L. Taylor

If you grew up in a Black household during the 80s and ’90s, chances are you’ve probably seen Susan L. Taylor’s work strewn across your parents’, relative’s, or neighbor’s coffee table. Taylor is the mother of journalism. Through her leadership at Essence magazine as Editor-in-Chief for 19 years and Publications Director for seven, the Harlem native helped ignite a literary revolution for Black culture that strategically defied the monolithic stereotypes of our race, specifically Black women.

Decades later, still sporting her iconic braided hairdo (now tinged with silver) and flashing that infectious smile, little about Taylor’s presence, purpose, or aura has changed. Her grace, allure, and intelligence are incessant, and she continues to do the work that positively affects Black culture. But this time around, her focus is the essence of Black youth.

Essence magazine was and still is a mirror for Black men and women, allowing us to see our physical features, hues, and cultural traditions positively represented in mainstream media. Taylor’s work at the magazine and current endeavors are evidence that her fate is to serve her people. Although the mother-of-one no longer merges her cultural passions with editorial work, she continues to contribute significantly to the Black race through her nonprofit organization, National Cares Mentoring Movement (CARES). “I feel honored that people highly regard the work I created in the community. It feels good that the work we did at Essence over the years has nourished women and men in a very particular and meaningful way,” the author shared during our chat. “Now, I think there’s nothing more important than any of us can do than assuring that young people who are losing ground on our watch are protected.”  

Everything I learned in the past, even those things that may have been the painful, shameful moments, has led to this point.”

Susan L. Taylor Founded CARES While At Essence

CARES is an organization that aims to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and prevent the high rate of suicide and attempted suicide among young Black people through mentorship. Taylor founded the nonprofit during her time at Essence. When Hurricane Katrina swept through and destroyed Essence’s second home, New Orleans, Louisiana, Taylor wanted to do more than put on a concert to acknowledge the disaster. 

After grappling with the devastation the natural disaster caused, the writer went within herself to get guidance on how she should contribute. “Quiet time is the most important time we can take,” declared the CEO. “In the quiet, I asked, ‘What should I do next? What have you come to teach me?’ The answers emerged, and spirit said ‘mentoring.’”

The editor believes in divine order and that nothing we experience in our lives is in vain. “This is my highest calling. I joined Essence at 23-years-old. Everything I learned in the past, even those things that may have been the painful, shameful moments, has led to this point,” remarked Taylor. 

What started as mentoring Black youth, who are often marginalized and suffer higher suicide rates than their cohorts, has turned into the only “Black-focused and led mentoring organization in the nation,” according to Taylor. CARES has proven its need in the community and, with more resources, can positively shift the landscape of Black America. “This is our work to do, and we will do it well. We are breaking the cycle of intergenerational Black poverty. I am most proud that we have sustained this movement and that our curriculum teaches critical thinking that helps our young people see their magnificence, glory, and history,” said the founder. 

Susan L. Taylor’s life exemplifies Black excellence, purpose, and commitment to using one’s talents to serve society. However, the Essence alum wholeheartedly believes that we must first pour into ourselves in order to serve others well. “What I try to remember is this, ‘You have to give yourself to yourself before you give yourself away,’” remarked the Editor-in-Chief, emerita. We have to keep that cup full so that we can serve. We are here to serve, and we can’t serve when we don’t have it.”

The 9th Annual For the Love of Our Children Gala will take place on Thursday, February 29th, at 60 Chelsea Piers in New York City. The event will be hosted by Sherri Shepard and will directly support CARES’ programs and mission of mentoring and uplifting our Black youth. 

Click here for more information.

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Renowned Editor & Journalist Susan L. Taylor Drops Gems ‘Everything I Learned In The Past Has Led To This Point’  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com