20th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival: The Year Of Empowerment Kicks-Off By Commemorating The 50th Anniversary Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964 INTRODUCING EXPANDED DAYTIME ACTIVITIES INCLUDING EMPOWER U WEEKEND WORKSHOP SERIES, INSPIRING KEYNOTES, ENLIGHTENING CONVERSATIONS AND POWERFUL COMMUNITY INITIATIVES TO ENRICH THE LIVES OF WOMEN AND FAMILIES

FIRST-EVER #YESWECODE HACK-A-THON EXPOSING YOUTH TO TECHNOLOGY

ESSENCE EMPOWERMENT EXPERIENCE FEATURES REV. AL SHARPTON STEVE HARVEY, ALICIA KEYS, BISHOP T.D. JAKES, IYANLA VANZANT, YOLANDA ADAMS, VAN JONES AND CONGRESSWOMAN MAXINE WATERS, AMONG OTHERS

PLUS, THE COUNTRY'S LEADING MAYORS, ACTIVISTS AND INFLUENCERS

NEW YORK, April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- ESSENCE today announced plans for the 20th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival "Year of Empowerment," which will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Kicking off 50 years to the day of this historic legislation, the ESSENCE Festival takes place July 3-6 in New Orleans, LA, and is expanding its footprint with innovative new programs and features designed to improve the day-to-day lives of women and families. 

This year, ESSENCE will triple the free empowerment offerings for attendees with bold, new community initiatives, as well as the introduction of a free workshop series, Empower U. Topics including Love & Relationships, Healthy Living, Money & Power, Beauty & Style, Education, Technology and Careers are among the deep-dive workshop tracks. 

"ESSENCE remains relentlessly focused on our community and on serving women and families like no one else can," said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks.  "Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the 'Year of Empowerment' is mission critical for our community.  Over 4 full days, with activations spanning more than 500,000 square feet within the Convention Center, the daytime experience has become the heartbeat of the ESSENCE Festival and is truly transformational – providing information, inspiration and practical solutions."

The 20th Anniversary ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage participants are among today's most influential newsmakers, national leaders, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, celebrities, journalists, educators, and experts:  Alicia Keys (with a debut ESSENCE Empowerment appearance discussing Black women and HIV/AIDS), Rev. Al Sharpton, Steve Harvey, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Iyanla Vanzant, Yolanda Adams, Van Jones, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. (More speakers to be announced.)

Plus, ESSENCE commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with special tribute moments throughout the weekend to past, present and future leaders and trailblazers in fields ranging from education to the environment, as well as conversations on the impact of the Act within the context of issues today including voting, education and the environment, etc.

As part of ESSENCE's Year of Empowerment, the brand is also partnering to present a variety of new community initiatives and forums, including: 

  • Empower U: A series of free workshops covering every aspect of your life — Love & Relationships, Money & Power, Style & Beauty, Healthy Living and Education & Technology.   Among the leaders bringing their wisdom to the Empower U classroom: Steve Harvey (Think Like a Man Q&A session); small-business expert Melinda Emerson (Going From Employee to Entrepreneur); Sarah Jakes (Learning From Love Mistakes); Dr. Denese Shervington (Finding Your Peace Anywhere) and National Urban League president Marc Morial (Career Connections).
  • NOLA For Life: ESSENCE will partner with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to deliver inspirational content and life-changing strategies for the 24-Hour NOLA For Life channel with the goal of uniting mothers and families to end violence across America. ESSENCE and Mayor Landrieu will also host 'Love, Loss and Life: The Reconciliation', building off of last year's purpose-filled prayer vigil for mothers who have loved and lost, on Sunday, July 6,  at 9AM (CST) at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on the ESSENCE Empowerment Stage.
  • #YesWeCode Hack-A-Thon: ESSENCE, music legend Prince, and the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund's Van Jones will launch its first ever hack-a-thon, which will allow young innovators and their adult teammates to develop computer programming solutions for New Orleans. 
  • #YesWeCode Tech Village: The #YesWeCode Tech Village is looking to Educate, Enlighten and Empower.  The Tech Village will be an interactive platform of technology with hands on activities, tech based youth organization presentations, boot camp information, celebrity tech highlights, website building, 3D printer demos, fashion meets technology, panel discussions, social media contests, prizes, games and much more.
  • PowerMoves Pitches: The New Orleans Start Up Fund will showcase top, minority entrepreneurs at a high-powered pitch session where they can win cash prizes and exposure to investors and business leaders.

To sign-up for any of our new empowerment initiatives, or for information about accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE FESTIVAL, visit ESSENCE Festival www.essencefestival.com. Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2014 ESSENCE Festival on Facebook.

The 2014 ESSENCE FESTIVAL™ is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI).  GeChar is the executive producer of the 2014 Essence Empowerment Experience Stage and Empower U.

Sponsors of the 20th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors Ford, McDonald's, My Black Is Beautiful, StateFarm, Verizon and Walmart

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.:
Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online.  The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 44 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of 11.5 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women's lives.  Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at www.essence.com.

About Time Inc.:
Time Inc., a division of Time Warner, is one of the largest branded media companies in the world reaching more than 130 million Americans each month across multiple platforms. With influential brands such as TIME, PEOPLE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, InStyle, REAL SIMPLE, Wallpaper, Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine, Time Inc. is home to celebrated events and franchises including the FORTUNE 500, TIME 100, PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Sportsman of the Year, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the ESSENCE Festival.

SOURCE Essence Communications Inc.



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