On the Fourth of July, Girls United celebrated with its own kind of colorful fireworks. The mentor-focused organization hosted a walk through the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter as part of Essence Festival’s Day in the Park.

The walk, which began and ended in Louis Armstrong Park, was led by a band that rocked out high energy-tunes throughout the day, giving participants the energy needed to make the mile long trek in the NOLA heat.

People in the community came out to see the girls in their colorful neon pink, green, orange and purple t-shirts, flooding the streets with their infectious spirit and beautiful sounds.

“The Essence Festival has been a party with a purpose from its inception. We are passionate about serving our community of women broadly and deeply,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications. “Supporting organizations that lift up young girls in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana is an essential part of our brand’s mission.”

ESSENCE Girls United is a new initiative designed to guide young Black women through a year-long mentorship program. It’s also an interactive digital and social content hub, which helps relay its core principles of leadership and self-love.

ESSENCE Girls United Walk through the French Quarter (Natasha Hatendi)

In June, the organization kicked off a giving challenge: a community-wide, four-day online giving event, taking place from July 4-7 during the 25th anniversary Essence Festival.

The first Girls United partner is Ulta Beauty, who in conjunction with ESSENCE chose six girls to participate in the conception, design, and creation of a collection that will launch in its stores nationwide later this summer.

The walk was part of the kick off to the festival weekend, which will celebrate all things Black music, beauty, wellness and culture.

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