When I first began my journey at ESSENCE, I dreamed about our 50th Anniversary issue. What we could do, what we could say, how we could properly acknowledge what a momentous milestone it would be. We had all of these extravagant dreams, and had put together all these grandiose plans, and then the world changed. A global pandemic, unlike anything in the modern history of mankind, swiftly upended many valued notions we held true.

Then I became sick from COVID-19, uncertain as to what the future held. What, was, however, very certain of, was that at ESSENCE, I am surrounded by an amazing team of Black women. And, as Black women always do, we adjust, we press onward, we march forward, we are resilient, and “still [we] rise,” to shout out to Dr. Maya Angelou. We have gracefully adapted to the new normal of being a 100% telecommuting office, closing this issue completely remotely for the first time in 50 years, all while social-distancing, homeschooling, supporting our families and community.

Our cover star, the iconic Naomi Campbell, herself celebrating a 50th birthday this month, is the personification of “resilience.” After I called, Naomi agreed without hesitation, to shoot our first ever virtual cover story on an iPhone, while social-distancing in isolation from her New York home. Naomi became the photographer, the stylist, the hairdresser, sharing her new reality with the world.

As we look back at the legacy of ESSENCE over the last 50 years, we are reminded in this most challenging time, of where we’ve been and how we’ve always overcome. 50 years of ESSENCE magazine, half a century of serving Black women and highlighting Black talents. As we look back, we are reminded where we’ve been and how we always thrive.

I know how lucky I am to have survived COVID-19, lucky to be able to work from home, while many others face the uncertainty of having lost their livelihoods, or are considered essential workers, and must risk their own well-being to be able to put food on the table. Now more than ever, it is vitally important that we continue our mission to represent, support and honor the ESSENCE family.

With Love, MoAnA~

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