Since ESSENCE Magazine first hit stands in May 1970, the magazine has always celebrated the beauty of Black love in all its forms. Let’s take a look back at the covers that made us swoon then and now.
On the January cover in 1971, ESSENCE editors called for oneness and respect between men and women. #righton
A romantic embrace opened the January issue in 1973.
In November 1973, ESSENCE editors wanted to encourage the conversation between men and women on all things love and respect.
In April 1974, we advised women on how to “peep your man’s program.” We can’t help but chuckle at the lingo, but the message still rings true today: know your man, ladies!
In August 1974 our cover paid tribute to finding love on campus. Let’s hear it for all of the college sweethearts new and old around the world.
Another visual tribute to young love. Take a look at our August 1975 ESSENCE cover.
In October 1975, we saluted oh-so-beautiful Black love one again with powerful visuals.
Our December 1975 holiday issue paid tribute to love and laughter throughout the season.
Nothing but hugs and kisses on our December 1976 ESSENCE cover.
In 1977 our February issue was all about love sweet love.
In February 1979 with a little help from the late, great crooner Teddy Pendergrass, ESSENCE urged couples to save a good thing when they have it. Truth!
In December 1979 celebrity couple Bill and Camille Cosby graced the cover of ESSENCE.
On the cover of our February issue in 1980 music power couple Valerie Simpson and the late Nickolas Ashford, best known as iconic R&B group Ashford and Simpson, made an appearance. Solid as a rock!
We reminded women to love and pamper themselves as much as they do their men in the 1981 February issue of ESSENCE.
For the November 1981 issue, we let the brother’s tell their side of the story when it came to all things love.
In December 1981, iconic singer Aretha Franklin and her husband at the time, actor Glynn Turman graced the cover of ESSENCE. Sadly, the couple divorced in 1984, but not before they became a part of the rich ESSENCE history.
Smokey Robinson and his wife Claudette (of The Miracles) celebrated 22 amazing years together on the cover of ESSENCE in February 1982. They split in 1987 but during their 18 year marriage they became the proud parents of two children, a daughter and a son.
In February 1983, ESSENCE asked readers to make it work with the ones they love and to remember that “any man won’t do!” Preach!
In July 1983 our cover story was all about building a solid foundation of friendship before moving further with your love. That advice stands true today.
In February 1984 we asked couples to fight fair and keep the love alive.
In 1986 for the February issue we dug deep into love addiction.
In July 1986 our cover was devoted to the love between Phylicia and Ahmad Rashād and their happy marriage. Look at those matching smiles!
In December 1986 ESSENCE editors took a look at the state of Black love and what readers could do to keep the love alive in their relationships.
The February 1987 issue was all about love and vulnerability and the cover was filled with warmth and passion.
In 1989 for our February issue we reminded readers to cherish good love. Alright now!
Oprah Winfrey and her longtime love Stedman Graham graced the cover of ESSENCE together in June 1989. We love everything about this, including the fact that they’re still enjoying their version of happily ever after today.
For our February issue in 1990 the editors were all about love and seduction.
Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert!! The A Different World lovebirds were meant to be and so was our infatuation with them. In February 1991 actors Kadeem Hardison and Jasmine Guy got cozy for an ESSENCE cover.
For the February cover in 1993, ESSENCE went behind the scenes with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air stars Will Smith and Nia Long, who played the fun-loving couple we all fell in love with on the show.
For ESSENCE’s sexy 25th anniversary issue we called on gorgeous model Tyson Beckford to bring the heat.
In July 1995 New York Undercover star Malik Yoba and actress Garcelle Beauvais shared an intimate embrace for the cover of ESSENCE and it was a beauty.
In December 1996, Oscar-award winning actor Denzel Washington and his lovely wife Pauletta appeared on the cover of ESSENCE and shared the secrets to their powerhouse love.
To celebrate the release of Love Jones, stars Nia Long and Larenz Tate shared the cover of the 1997 February issue of ESSENCE. Darius and Nina, we love you always! Snap, snap, snap!
Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Latanya Richardson posed for the December 1999 cover of ESSENCE magazine with their daughter Zoe Jackson. The happy couple will celebrate 24 years of marriage this year.
In 2003 everyone was rooting for Erykah Badu and Common’s love to last, us included. The then-couple graced our February cover that year with this adorable shot.
In December 2003 Magic and Cookie Johnson posed for the cover of ESSENCE and opened up about the role forgiveness plays in true love.
In February 2004 Mary J. Blige posed for the cover of ESSENCE with her new husband Kendu Isaacs and fans couldn’t have been happier that she had finally found a love all her own.
Will Smith and his lovely wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, first graced the cover of ESSENCE together in February 2005. Their love and commitment to each other just radiated from this photo.
In December 2005, comedianne and actress Mo’Nique celebrated finding love again and posed for the cover with her second husband Sidney Hicks.
In December 2006 entertainment mogul Diddy posed for ESSENCE’s camera with his then-girlfriend Kim Porter.
In June 2007, Mary J. Blige and her devoted hubby Kendu Isaacs once again posed for the cover of ESSENCE. Can you feel the love?
When Usher Raymond and his ex-wife Tameka Raymond enjoyed happier times as newlyweds, they graced the cover of the November 2007 issue of ESSENCE.
Boxer Laila Ali and her hubby Curtis Conway made an appearance on the cover of the 2008 May issue of ESSENCE magazine.
Just months before he became the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama posed with First Lady Michelle Obama and their lovely daughters Sasha and Malia for the September 2008 cover of ESSENCE.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith made a second appearance on the cover of ESSENCE in December 2008.
In December 2009 comedian and TV personality Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie Harvey appeared together for the very first time on the cover of ESSENCE.
In the middle of his first presdential term, President Barack Obama posed with his lovely wife, First Lady Michelle Obama for the cover of the March 2010 issue of ESSENCE.
In February 2012, Gabrielle Union posed with her then-boyfriend, and current fiancé, NBA baller Dwyane Wade for a sexy and vibrant cover to kick off the month of love.
This year, Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie Harvey paid ESSENCE readers another visit for the February issue to discuss the power of love. Which ESSENCE love cover was your all-time favorite? Tell us below!
For the stunning October 2016 cover of ESSENCE, President Barack Obama and First Lady Barack Obama say farewell to the White House with the overwhelming grace, style and poise we’ve come to expect from our favorite First Couple.