American editor, writer, and journalist, Susan L. Taylor served as editor-in-chief of Essence from 1981 through 2000 and in that time Susan worked up the ladder up to being referred to as “the most influential black woman in journalism” in 1994.
For one who started her career at Essence, a magazine for African-American women, in 1970, the year the magazine was founded, as a freelance fashion and beauty editor without a college degree you have to agree that Susan is more than meets the eye.
More than her editing responsibilities, and success in building the Essence brand. She was executive producer and host of Essence, the Television Program, a syndicated interview program broadcast on more than 50 stations for four years during the 1980’s and in the 1990s, she began Essence Books, and in no time a monthly inspirational column, “In the Spirit”, became a popular feature of the magazine.
In her monthly column, “In the Spirit,” she used the platform to speak to millions of black women on a personal level. And her message to all was simple: “Love yourself”, while fighting her own personal struggle: a deep-rooted depression that crippled her as a child and continued into adulthood, even while being the face of Essence.
“My mother was really depressed all of my life, and I thought it had to do with me, My sadness and depression came out of giving myself to my career before I would give myself to myself,” said Taylor” …
But after Taylor opened up to her uncle, she was able to get the help she needed. She said “Hiding sadness makes you more and more sad because it closes you off to your healing”.
Soon after she Founded Essence CARES, in 2005 which champions a National CARES Mentoring Movement, a community-mobilization movement dedicated to healing and advancing defenseless children and African-American young ones trapped in a cycle of intergenerational poverty. She also co-founded the Future PAC, the first national political action committee devoted to providing a network of support and sources of funding for progressive African American women seeking federal and state-level political offices.
Taylor is the author of four books: the best-seller In the Spirit; Lessons in Living; Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives, which she co-authored with her husband, Khephra Burns; and her most recent book, All About Love.
Today, the former Essence editor-in-chief uses her time and platform to give back to less fortunate Black families, among other endeavors. Her awards include 1986, Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, in 1988 she was the first African-American woman to receive the Henry Johnson Fisher Award from the The Magazine Publishers of America and several others.