2014 essence festival

*Essence Magazine is a well renowned monthly publication designed for African-American women.

The magazine focuses on appealing to readers from the 18 to 50 age range, and covers the realms of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. However, it seems as though one man believes that Essence is essentially losing its…essence.

Columnist and member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Raynard Jackson recently wrote a column entitled “Nothing Essential About Essence,” where he attacks and surgically dismantles Essence Communications as a whole, including the producers of both the magazine as well as the Essence Music Festival.

According to his article at BlackPressUSA.com, the last Essence Music Festival was held in New Orleans, Louisiana and marked the festival’s 20th anniversary. This past festival was also what Jackson specifically decided to zero in on. In reference to the company not using a Black-owned production design company, Jackson wrote:

“According to media accounts, ‘In 2008, for the first time since its 1995 inception, the festival was not produced by the original producer team. Instead, Essence Communications, owner of the festival and the Essence magazine, contracted Rehage Entertainment Inc. A new main stage facelift was designed by production designer Stefan Beese.’ Essence Communications and Essence Magazine are no longer Black-owned, they are owned by Time Inc. Maybe this would explain why EMF contracted with Rehage Entertainment Inc. and Stefan Beese to produce the event and to build a new stage. They couldn’t find a Black firm capable of taking on these contracts? If they need some referrals, I would be glad to send them a list of Black people who could do the job, if they are truly interested in the “empowerment” of the Black community as they claim.”

Jackson also took note that there was a lack of diversity on the panels and the poor quality of panel discussion topics at the festival.

“There was also no diversity in the programming,” Jackson wrote. “Of their 86 ‘empowerment’ speakers during their various daytime panes, all were media personalities, journalists, or liberal politicians.”

For Jackson’s full story, go to BlackPressUSA.

raynard jackson

Raynard Jackson