With her letter from the editor in the February issue, our Editor in Chief explains why for the first time ever there is no image on the cover of ESSENCE, and why we invited activists, authors, thought leaders and cultural figures to reflect on the meaning of this moment in our society, and what we must do next.

Each month as I sit down to connect with you in this space, I think about what I can share that might be meaningful to your life, asking Divine Guidance for the right words. This time I truly struggled with my message to you.

As a mother of two, when I tried to comprehend why so many Black women and men, girls and boys are subjected to racial profiling and victimized by police brutality; when I looked at how those who are put in place to protect us often make us feel fearful; when I considered a judicial process that removes consequences and accountability for those who have murdered unarmed Black people, I thought anything I could say would feel utterly inadequate.

Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Melissa Harris-Perry

After I spoke with the editorial team—with all our souls aching for answers—we knew immediately what we had to do: Tell the story of this tipping point in our history in America. So this February we are focusing our attention on the daring modern-day civil rights movement we are all bearing witness to and making a bold move of our own: a cover blackout.

Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Angela Davis

It is the first time in our 45-year history that we have not featured a cover image. Pictures are powerful, but so are words. That’s why we’ve invited some of our greatest thought leaders—you included—to help us answer the question on our minds at the moment: Where do we go from here? Beginning this month, inspired by you, we are launching Civil Rights Watch, a new series across our platforms in which we will be chronicling—and calling out—significant gains, losses and solutions in this evolving movement as we all try to find a constructive path forward.

Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Patrisse Cullors

The protests, die-ins, marches and social media campaigns that have been born out of our collective grief have given you an opportunity to express your outrage, show your support for the victims and their families whose lives have been forever changed, and forge alliances with like-minded individuals who also believe that it is time for a change. It gives me hope that so many young people are leading the way, people like Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza, the brave and beautiful women behind the BlackLivesMatter movement. When we asked Patrisse for their permission to use their poignant battle cry as the centerpiece for our story, she graciously agreed.

Let’s repeat this refrain again and again. Until we are heard. Until it sinks in. Until we all believe.

Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief

This letter originally appeared in February 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now!

Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Angela Davis
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Melissa Harris-Perry
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Patrisse Cullors
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Isabel Wilkerson
Where Do We Go From Here?: Essay by Chirlane McCray

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