ESSENCE Festival Talent on the Value of Family
Makeda Peterson

Over the years, many of the artists and speakers on the ESSENCE Festival lineup for July 4th weekend have shared poignant quotes about their family life with ESSENCE magazine. For instance, Jill Scott once paid homage to her mother and Rev. Al Sharpton dismantled the stereotypes surrounding young men from single-parent households.

Read their thoughts on family as well as those from Dr. Steve Perry and Steve Harvey, who will also attend the ESSENCE Festival.

Mothers play a huge role in children’s lives, and singer Jill Scott acknowledges that:
“When I was growing up, my mother would take me to plays and museums, and we’d talk about life. Those times helped shape who I became.”
, October 2003

When Steve Harvey married his wife, Marjorie, they both came into their commitment with children from previous marriages. Steve acknowledged it takes a special person to deal with this:

“It’s a blessing when your new spouse is accepting of your children. Do you know the pressure that takes off? At the end of the day, the kids didn’t ask for any of this. The kids didn’t know you were going to break up with their mama, their daddy. They didn’t know you were going to try to find happiness elsewhere. And they really don’t have anywhere else to go except where you go. So for a woman or man to accept their partner’s offspring as theirs and love them that way? A ton of pressure is off.”
, December 2009

Dr. Steve Perry, who has been vocal about fighting childhood bullying, said children are a blessing:
“Our children are our greatest asset and the truest representation of who we have become as a people.”
, February 2011

Al Sharpton said it’s unfair to think men from single-parent homes don’t have a chance to succeed in life:
“I was brought up in a stable middle-class family till I was 9 years old. Then my father left us and my mother had to raise me and my sister in the hood in Brooklyn. It was especially traumatic to go from a comfortable middle-class lifestyle with a two-car garage in Queens to welfare and public housing, because I wasn’t familiar with that. I lost my father and a lifestyle at the same time. I felt a sense of rejection. I was named after him. I looked like him. A kid can develop all kinds of complexes and insecurities. Men aren’t honest about that. We try to get past our own insecurities; we have our own way of dealing with it all.”
, June 2012

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