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Keep a Little "Essence" at the Essence of Who You Are!

In this era of Girl Power and Women’s Empowerment, nothing is more refreshing than a gathering of women to show love and support or a good time with the girls. That’s exactly how I would explain this past weekend as I returned from New Orleans, Louisiana feeling even more fearless and ready to conquer the world. Essence Festival owes me not a thing!

I remember it like yesterday, a group of friends and I took a trip to New Orleans for Essence Festival. College girls ready to let our hair down, have fun, and PARTY! We booked a Penthouse Suite, packed our bags in the cars, and were off. We were ready for a weekend of Bourbon Street plans and plans to have a good time… partying! I guess you can almost say we were the originators of this girls’ trip thing LOL.

A little over ten years later, I traveled back to New Orleans for the exact same event but received a totally different experience. Essence Festival 2019 was an entirely different vibe as I headed to the celebration of Essence Festival’s 25th Anniversary. It was during this trip that I learned the true origin and meaning of Essence. Essence Festival is known as “the party with a purpose” and was started in 1994 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence—a magazine serving African American women. The event was so well-received that organizers decided to make it an annual affair. Hence, we have the Essence Festival.

I felt every bit of the purpose this time and for me there was more than one (purpose). I used this as a triple purpose trip. The main purpose of the trip was to be there for the honest keynote conversation with CBS anchor Gayle King and Forever First Lady, Michelle Obama, enjoying it all LIVE and up close. Also, I wanted to get away and enjoy some “me time.” Nothing says self-care more than getting away and enjoying yourself, while also being empowered. Beyond seeing the Forever First Lady, the most empowering part of it was sharing this experience with my awesome mom. Now with me having children of my own, most of our time together is spent with her, the children, and me… not us alone. So, this time I kissed the babies, packed bags in the car, and was off to meet another mother-daughter duo – one of my childhood friends and her mom—to truly party… with a purpose.

I was inspired by the ambiance, the love, the display of greatness, and the #BlackGirlMagic paraded. It was all so fortifying. I was most inspired by the journeys and truths being shared among women. We looked good but we exchanged more than the “good” with each other. It got REAL! As you can tell from the mission of BLCF, I love when women own and share our imperfections so of course this gave me so much life.

I most loved how open and candid Mrs. Obama was about her life, the Obamas’ tenure in the White House, relationships, and real-life issues that plague women today. She revealed the truth about marriage being hard and her and Mr. Obama going through marriage counseling. She stated that her entire purpose for putting this honest moment in her book, Becoming Michelle Obama, was because she knows that a lot of young couples see the Obamas as #RelationshipGoals. Therefore, she wanted to make sure she was honest about aspects of their relationship outside of them fist bumping and her admiring him on stage.

My hope is that more of us fill the streets of New Orleans during this amazing weekend for years to come. Moreover, that beyond that, we still keep a little of “essence” with us as we return to our normal, everyday lives. What I mean by that is, continue coming together and supporting each other, continue displaying our greatness and magic, and most importantly, continue looking good but sharing more than the "good" with your sister! I definitely see myself returning to #PartyWithAPurpose. I have a newfound respect and admiration for Essence Festival.

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