Essence Communications Inc. president, Michelle Ebanks, kicked off the 20th Essence Festival with an opening speech and acknowledged all the main sponsors for the event: Coca-Cola, Verizon, Procter and Gamble, Mc Donald’s and Ford Motor Co.
Rev. Al Sharptonspoke from stage and said, “I cannot imagine being anywhere else for the Fourth of July weekend. Twenty years ago we started a leadership panel and eery year I have spoken at this conference. I call it a conference, a festival, a gathering where we have dealt with the causes of Black America every year. In 95′ it was The Million Man March or me bringing the mother of Trayvon Martin here, we struggle but we also meet and greet, entertain and become educated and empowered here at Essence.”
New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu,“It is the fourth of July and two days ago we celebrated the signing of the Civil Rights act and the import of the 20th Anniversary and where we were 50 years ago and where we are today it is just amazing! Essence represents the best that the United States has to offer; how far we have come, how far we have to go and how much we have to do. Starting off as a concert Essence, is now a ‘party with a purpose.'”
Over the years, the fan base has increased and this past weekend it hit a high with 55,000 people coming to share an exceptional weekend. Check out more photos from the Essence Festival kick off in the gallery. –joi pearson @joiapearson
Photos by Joi Pearson Photography