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5 things to expect from this year’s virtual ESSENCE Festival, sponsored by Ford

Visual representation of Ford’s #UPLIFTED virtual booth at ESSENCE Fest 2020 (Photo provided by Ford Communications)

The 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture has gone virtual. The ‘Unstoppable Virtual Experience’ kicked off on June 25, 2020 and will be live streamed over two sequential weekends via essencestudios.com.

In light of the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic brought to the world, ESSENCE has chosen to continue to show up in a myriad of ways, including producing this year’s ESSENCE Festival in a completely virtual manner. They’ll be serving up programming that entertains, empowers, inspires, educates and mobilizes from June 25-28 and July 2-5, allowing for a global audience of viewers to tune in. There will be virtual performances, summits, panels and more, including musical artists, social influencers and global experts.

Ford is back this year as the exclusive automotive sponsor, making this their 12th consecutive year sponsoring the festival. Ford’s theme for 2020 is ‘UPLIFTED: Healing Now. Empowered Future’ and is very indicative of where the world should be heading. According to Ford, “by creating safe spaces of affirmation and self-care – a virtual support system – this helps ease the pressure of everything” that’s currently going on, and adds to their intention of supporting and celebrating Black women. To further ease the pressure, Ford is donating $700,000 in conjunction with the National Urban League, to support Black women in six cities hit hardest by COVID-19: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans.

This year’s virtual festival is a first of its kind. Ford is conducting some dynamic experiences, including hosting several powerfully uplifting panel discussions and introducing their very own first virtual booth experience. Panel discussions will include

  • Breast Cancer Awareness: Tips During a Pandemic Powered by Ford Warriors in Pink, a discussion amongst doctors and survivors centering around health and wellness during COVID-19 ,
  • Overcoming Overwhelm: Black Women at Work, featuring Taraji P. Henson as a panelist, and discussing mental, social and occupational wellness,
  • Power Suits, a panel discussion, moderated by Emmy award-winning journalist and TV host Shaun Robinson, about celebrating women who are making great strides in traditionally male-dominated fields, and
  • The Current State of Black Women Entrepreneurs: Still I Rise, an honest conversation on how Black women entrepreneurs are overcoming the challenges of the current times.

The panel discussion times are subject to change, so to learn more and see times, visit essencefestival.com or go directly to essencestudios.com.

Ford is also bringing to light its first ever virtual vehicle walk around experience, where participants are able to virtually walk around new vehicles, providing them with the ability to rotate around each vehicle in a complete 360 view, including being able to view the vehicle’s interior. Virtual vehicles on display include the new 2021 Mach-E, 2020 Explorer, 2020 Escape and the 2020 F-150.

Also included with the Ford virtual experience are a virtual photo booth activation and an adult coloring wall. Festival goers will also be able to enjoy live DJ sets from Femme It Forward, the music and entertainment platform featuring female visionaries and Girls Make Beats, a music production mentorship program Ford worked with earlier this year during the 2020 Escape ‘Built Phenomenally’ campaign. The Ford stage will include simulcasts of all four panels, Sirius XM Radio broadcasts and DJ sets as well.

The ESSENCE Festival wouldn’t be complete without a Ford vehicle give away, and Ford’s enlisting the help of comedian and talk show host Loni Love to do just that.  On Saturday, July 4 Ford will provide one lucky winner with a 2020 Ford vehicle of their choice from a 2020 Explorer, Escape, F-150 or a Mustang. To learn more or to register to win, visiting essence.com/ford.