EDDIE MURPHY, ARSENIO HALL AND ALL-STAR CAST ON ESSENCE’S “COMING 2 AMERICA” TRIPLE COVERS

Prepare the royal jet! Coming 2 America is finally arriving, with Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and an all-star cast of returning and new faces—including Jermaine Fowler, KiKi Layne and Bella Murphy. It’s been more than three decades since the beloved original Coming to America hit theaters and became a true cult classic that has spanned multiple generations and demographics. Now, in the ESSENCEMarch/April issue triple cover article, The Fresh Princes of Zamunda, Regina R. Robertson talks to the cast about why this was the right time to do the sequel, their fave moments and what the film means to the culture:

  • EDDIE MURPHY ON WHAT THE FILM MEANS TO THE CULTURE: “Coming to America is one of my films that has really worked its way into the culture. People get dressed up as the characters for Halloween, and they still walk around saying catchphrases like ‘Sexual Chocolate.’ So many people grew up with Coming to America and have a lot invested in it, so I didn’t want to taint that…Once the ideas started coming together, it took about four or five years to get the script all the way right. Once we got it right, I knew it was time…”

  • ARSENIO HALL ON DOING THE SEQUEL: “A lot of people have posted about Coming to America and said things like, ‘Please don’t mess with my movie’ or ‘I don’t want no sequel!’ We’ve been pitched all kinds of ideas, but I remember reading the script in Eddie’s backyard and it was all making sense. That’s when I knew that this was going to be the sequel…”

  • KIKI LAYNE ON PLAYING MEEKA: “Meeka is loyal to her family. I’m interested in showcasing strong Black women— and being a part of this film was an opportunity to play in such a classic world and also to work with straight-up legends, all the way around…”

  • BELLA MURPHY ON PLAYING OMMA AND WORKING WITH HER DAD: “Omma is super-smart, a little bit of a badass, and she’s super-cool. Being able to do my first film with my dad is really special…I’m over the moon…”
  • JERMAINE ON PLAYING LAVELLE—AND WATCHING HIS DREAM COME TRUE: “In some ways, Lavelle reminds me a lot of myself when I was growing up and trying to figure out life. As a fan of the original film, I was honored to be a part of this whole world—but when they told me how Lavelle becomes part of the story, I just laughed my ass off and thought, All right, let’s do it…”  
  • SHARI HEADLEY ON WHAT AUDIENCES WILL LOVE: “I’m as excited as the audience and have no doubt that this will be a film that people will love. I’ll venture to say they’ll love it even more than the first one…”

  • WESLEY SNIPES ON JOINING THE FILM: “I was like, ‘Whatever the role is, I want to be in it.’ Later, I was told that I was going to be a General—but really, I could have played a zebra and been just fine…”

ESSENCE DEDICATES 2020 ELECTION PACKAGE TO VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE KAMALA HARRIS’S HISTORIC WHITE HOUSE RUN

ESSENCE, the number one, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women, is dedicating its 2020 Election special coverage to vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris’s historic run for the White House, featuring Harris on the cover of its Election 2020 digital package and the stories of the Black women leading the campaign.

For more than a year, ESSENCE has documented Harris’s groundbreaking run for the White House. In the midst of what many perceive to be multiple pandemics affecting the African-American community—from the unprecedented coronavirus, social unrest, police brutality, economic instability, incendiary rhetoric on the political stage, and more—ESSENCE continues its multi-platform coverage at the cusp of one of the most historic elections in our lifetime.

In the piece, History Maker, News & Politics editor Tanya Christian details her coverage of the Senator—including her live appearance at the 2019 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans during her presidential run last year. Now more than a year later, Harris weighs in on a number of topics including:

  • ON THE BIDEN-HARRIS AGENDA: “There’s no question that we need immediate change and drastic change, and that’s so much of what the Biden-Harris platform and what the Biden-Harris administration will be about. It’s about saying, ‘We need to immediately address a number of issues that demand priority….’ And that relates to getting people back to work. It means investing in infrastructure and creating millions of new jobs. It means fighting for health care for all people…”
  • ON SOCIAL UNREST AND POLICE BRUTALITY: “I have seen too many cases of not only unarmed Black folks being killed, but women, and we need to speak their names and understand that we have to have justice…”

ESSENCE’s Election 2020 digital package also includes The Black Women Behind the Biden-Harris Campaign, which features key movers and shakers such as Senior Advisor Symone Sanders; Vice-Presidential Nominee Chief of Staff Karine Jean-Pierre; National Coalitions Director Ashley Allison; Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning Ashley Etienne; National Director for State Coalition Outreach Sherice Perry; National Political Director Erin Wilson; National Women’s Vote Director Carissa Smith and more.

ESSENCE has also partnered with Higher Heights for America to live stream the vice-presidential debate. Tune in tonight at 7:45 PM (ET) via ESSENCE’s Facebook page. In addition, ESSENCE.com will feature the results of the ESSENCE + Black Women’s Roundtable “Power of the Sister Vote” poll next week. The sixth annual survey gauges the political concerns, attitudes, and opinions of Black women across the country.

ESSENCE’s Election 2020 digital package is available now. For more on this issue, visit ESSENCE.com or pick up next month’s November/December issue. Also, join the conversation @Essence.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Rowe)

 

ESSENCE & MCDONALD’S HOLDS “MAKING MOVES NOW VIRTUAL BOOTCAMP” THIS SATURDAY

Calling all Gen Z entrepreneurs! Are you a young Black woman entrepreneur between the ages of 18 and 25 with a new or emerging business? ESSENCE and McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden movement are joining forces to inform, educate and empower the next generation of trailblazing Black women leaders through the Making Moves Now Virtual Bootcamp.

Tune in to ESSENCE.com on Saturday, September 19 at 11AM EST to hear valuable advice, lessons learned, and secrets to entrepreneurial success from a handful of young women who are thriving as business owners and want to help you do the same! Actress and host Khadeen Ellis and ESSENCE “Unbossed” Podcast host Marquita Harris will lead an afternoon of fun yet insightful programming featuring conversations with Blackgirl Sunscreen CEO Shontay Lundy, Actress and Social Media Guru Jasmine Luv and McDonald’s Executive Owner & Operator Marissa Fisher—with a special guest appearance from actress, singer & entrepreneur Ryan Destiny.

Plus, stick around as we close out the day with three rising young entrepreneurs who will share their business ideas with our panel and receive direct feedback on their presentations.

Following the Bootcamp, be sure to mark your calendars for the ESSENCE and McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden Making Moves Now Virtual Pitch Competition, presented in partnership with New Voices. The official pitch competition will take place on October 10, 2020, during the first-ever Girls United Virtual Summit. Join us to support a host of young Black women as they pitch their businesses for a chance to win thousands of dollars in funding and make even bigger moves in their community.

For more information on the Making Moves Now Virtual Bootcamp and to register, click HERE.

https://www.essence.com/news/essence-mcdonalds-making-moves-now-virtual-bootcamp/

Author, Philanthropist, Multi-Millionaire Millennial Business Mogul, Nathalie Nicole Smith

In August 2020, author, philanthropist, and Multi-Millionaire Millennial business mogul, Nathalie Nicole Smith,  officially selected The epiMediaGroup, LLC, a global public relations conglomerate, to represent her brand and her associated affairs. Nathalie Nicole is the author of Amazon Best Seller “Becoming A Brand”, a celebrated business owner of multiple brands, a beauty and health enthusiast, an international speaker, founder of Women Who Boss (501C3) and a millionaire business coach.

A serial entrepreneur and Howard University graduate, Nathalie Nicole is no stranger to developing and growing new talent.  As one of the top earners in her Network Marketing Company, Total Life Changes, Nathalie Nicole has been able to coach hundreds of women into 6 figure earnings throughout her career.  Her ability to create dynamic and lasting brands has allowed her to successfully launch initiatives that capture high energy engagement from her following.  Nathalie and her companies have been recognized for outstanding national achievement.

In 2013, Nathalie Nicole was recognized as “Top 30 Under 30” for her work in the development of her Plush brand.  Due to her business savvy and her tenacity for success, Nathalie has reached the highest designation within her Network Marketing Company, Total Life Changes, and she is now a multi-millionaire at the age of 32.  But that’s just the beginning, Nathalie is an author of an Amazon Best Selling book “Becoming A Brand” and she is the founder of “Women Who Boss” which is a 501c3 organization to help women walk into their real purpose amidst their pain.

Nathalie Nicole has several high-profile projects currently under development under her “Becoming A Brand” moniker, her Plush enterprise, and her Women Who Boss foundation.  Nathalie is also currently developing more outreach opportunities for millennial women looking to elevate their lives via financial, health, and spiritual.

Nathalie Nicole has been featured in: Huffington Post, Thrive Global, & Business For Home.  Nathalie has spoken on international stages, most recently she was selected to speak at an Essence Women’s Empowerment Summit.

Nathalie Nicole is currently working on her second book, developing an international podcast, a million-dollar earning coaching program, women empowerment platforms, and a new apparel line.  Nathalie is also acquiring multiple real estate projects which will also allow her brand to continue to help up and coming moguls.  Nathalie is also slated to launch two Plush Rx boutiques by the end of 2020.
Nathalie Nicole’s upcoming project, The Relaunch of “Becoming A Brand” is slated for the end of September with some new and exciting additions to the book and brand.  Updates will be found on the official website:  https://www.natnicolesmith.com.  Stay up to date on all things Nathalie Nicole here.

First-Ever Virtual Festival Includes Two UNSTOPPABLE Weekends of #ESSENCEFEST

WHAT:​           ESSENCE, the leading media, technology, and commerce company serving Black women and communities, today announced new additions to its stellar line-up for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience Presented by Coca-Cola. Taking place June 25-28 and July 2-5 (Thursdays-Sundays) and streaming on ESSENCEStudios.com, the multi-day experience will extend to a global audience of viewers and feature virtual performances, summits, panels and more including leading musical artists, influencers and experts from around the world.

For the first time in the Festival’s 26-year history, the much-anticipated celebration – which annually draws more than 500,000 attendees and contributes almost $300 million in economic impact over July 4th weekend in New Orleans–will be produced as a fully virtual experience spanning two weekends of programming that entertain, empower, inspire, educate and mobilize. This year, in partnership with Michelle Obama’s national, nonpartisan organization, When We All Vote, ESSENCE will share voter registration and voting resources. The Festival will also include a benefit initiative to raise funds to support the critical needs and sustainability of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and organizations focused on racial equity across the U.S. For an up-to-date artist lineup and schedule, click here.  The 2020 ESSENCE Festival is presented by Coca-Cola.  Major sponsors include Ford, McDonald’s, Walmart, My Black is Beautiful, P&G. For more information and to register, visit www.essencefestival.com.  Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest.

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WHO:​              NEWLY ANNOUNCED: First Lady Michelle Obama; Kerry Washington; Naomi Campbell; Lena Waithe; Ayesha and Stephen Curry; Rev. Al Sharpton; Marc Morial; Tamika Mallory; Tarana Burke; Jon Batiste; Chronixx; Michaela Coel; Wyclef; Iyanla Vanzant; Sarah Jessica Parker; Iman Shumpert & Teyana Taylor. PLUS: Marco Borges; Jemele Hill; Misa Hylton; Jeanette Jenkins; MC LyteJodie Patterson; Michael Jai White & Gillian White; Ebonie K. Williams; and many more.

Previously announced performers include:

Headliner Bruno Mars plus: Amanda Black, Andra Day, Bell Biv Devoe (“BBD”), Burna Boy, Common, D-Nice, Damian Marley, Diamond Platnumz, Doug E. Fresh, Elephant Man, Estelle, India.Arie, John Legend, Ledisi, NAS, Patti LaBelle, Raphael Saadiq, Rapsody, Sauti Sol, Shaggy, Swizz Beatz, and more, hosted by Loni Love.  Leading a special tribute to the city of New Orleans will be Mayor LaToya Cantrell, PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas and Big 6 Brass Band.  Also, featured in the popular Sunday gospel Get Lifted celebration are Anita Wilson, Bri Babineaux, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Greater Sound of Greater St. Stephen FGBC, Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, The Walls Group, Tye Tribbett, and more, along with Sunday sermons from Bishop Paul S. Morton and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Other culture-leaders and influencers raising their voices to speak include New Orleans, LA, Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Atlanta, GA, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Chicago, IL, Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; Ferguson, MO, Mayor-Elect Ella Jones; San Francisco, CA, Mayor London Breed; Don Lemon; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Kirk and Tammy Franklin; Lori Harvey; Ryan Destiny; Lexi Underwood; Egypt Sherrod; Lisa Nichols; Master P.; Shaun T.; Tabitha Brown and more.

*Artists and schedules are subject to change.

 

WEEK 1 (6/25-6/28):

ESSENCE ANNOUNCES 2020 ESSENCE FESTIVAL OF CULTURE: UNSTOPPABLE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA

ESSENCE, the leading media, technology, and commerce company serving Black women and communities, today announced its 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience Presented by Coca-Cola. For the first time in the Festival’s 26-year history, the much-anticipated celebration – which annually draws more than 500,000 attendees and contributes almost $300 million in economic impact over July 4th weekend in New Orleans – will be produced as a fully virtual experience spanning two weekends of programming that entertain, empower, inspire, educate and mobilize. Taking place on June 25-28 and July 2-5 (Thursdays-Sundays) and streaming on ESSENCE Studios, the multi-day experience will extend to a global audience of viewers and feature virtual performances, summits, panels, and more including leading musical artists, influencers and experts from around the world. ESSENCE’s #BlackVotesMatter365 voting hub will also be a core element of the virtual Festival including quick access to helpful resources for Black women and communities to amplify their voices in local and national elections through voting. The Festival will also include a benefit initiative to raise funds to support the critical needs and sustainability of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and organizations focused on racial equity across the U.S. For an up-to-date artist lineup and schedule, click here.

“Due to COVID-19, this was certainly not the year we planned for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, but challenging times call for innovative measures,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder & chair, Essence Ventures (parent company of ESSENCE). “As we began to see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our community, it became more important to us than ever to still create a Festival experience that delivered the community, love, laughter, fun, and empowerment that the Festival is known for—and to leave our audience feeling inspired and uplifted, especially during these times. “For 50 years, it has been ESSENCE’s mission to provide content that our community needs – when they need it, and we are thrilled that ESSENCE Studios has been the perfect platform to deliver our offline experiences, such as Festival, for the first time ever virtually. We are also appreciative of our partners for their support and vision as we continue to navigate this time together and provide quality programming, a stellar lineup of musical talent, leading experts and thought leaders, and the epicenter of global Black culture that the only ESSENCE can.”

The 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture will feature a global ensemble of performers, including Amanda Black, Andra Day, Bell Biv Devoe (“BBD”), Bruno Mars, Burna Boy, Common, D-Nice, Damian Marley, Diamond Platnumz, Doug E. Fresh, Elephant Man, Estelle, India. Arie, John Legend, Ledisi, NAS, Patti LaBelle, Raphael Saadiq, Rapsody, Sauti Sol, Shaggy, Swizz Beatz, and more, hosted by Loni Love. Leading a special tribute to the city of New Orleans will be Mayor LaToya Cantrell, PJ Morton, Big Freedia, Irma Thomas, Tank and The Bangas, and Big 6 Brass Band. Also, featured in the popular Sunday gospel Get Lifted celebration are Anita Wilson, Bri Babineaux, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Greater Sound of Greater St. Stephen FGBC, Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Kirk Franklin, Koryn Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, The Walls Group, Tye Tribbett, and more, along with Sunday sermons from Bishop Paul S. Morton and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Other culture-leaders and influencers raising their voices to speak include Steph and Ayesha Curry; Rev. Al Sharpton; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Don Lemon; New Orleans, LA, Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Atlanta, GA, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Chicago, IL, Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; Ferguson, MO, Mayor-Elect Ella Jones; San Francisco, CA, Mayor London Breed; Tamika Mallory; Lori Harvey; Teyana Taylor; Iman Shumpert; Ryan Destiny; Kirk and Tammy Franklin; Lexi Underwood; Egypt Sherrod; Lena Waithe; Lisa Nichols; Marc Morial; Master P; Naomi Campbell; Nia Long; Shaun T.; Tabitha Brown and more.

With an impressive slate of talent, the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture will deliver diverse programming within the following daily overviews:

THURSDAYS:

  • ESSENCE Wellness House [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Kickstart your path to recovery with meditation, conversations, workouts, and tutorials designed to boost your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial wellbeing.

FRIDAYS:

  • ESSENCE Beauty Carnival [5 PM-9 PM (ET)]: Step inside a virtual beauty sphere with top brands, makeup artists, hairstylists, skincare experts, and more! Stream live tutorials and get expert tips for accentuating your own flawless beauty with products and brands that are making a splash across the globe.
  • ESSENCE After Dark [9 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Tune in for music brought to you by your favorite stars.

SATURDAYS:

  • Wealth & Power [2 PM-6 PM (ET)]: Get the tools you need to invest in yourself and make strides in entrepreneurship, career, and personal finance. Plus, get the latest on the 2020 candidates, the issues that matter most…and why your voice counts!
  • Entertainment All-Access [6 PM-7 PM (ET)]: Catch your Hollywood favorites in Q&As and be the first to see exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest upcoming releases.
  • Evening Concert Series [7 PM-10 PM (ET)]: Our explosive evening concert series goes digital! Catch the #ESSENCEFest all-star lineup in performances to benefit and celebrate our Essential Heroes, Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

SUNDAYS:

  • Get Lifted Gospel Sunday Celebration [11 AM-1 PM (ET)]: Tune in for Sunday worship featuring powerful words of praise and legendary Gospel performances.

In addition, as the fight against COVID-19 rages on in states across the country, many essential workers continue to be on the frontlines helping to ensure the nation’s health, safety, and essential needs are met. ESSENCE is honoring these workers with its first-ever ESSENCE Essential Heroes Awards program. This three-part, the year-long franchise will highlight those who, despite systematic disparities, have risen to become Essential Heroes in their communities during this pandemic. A ceremony recognizing the 50 ESSENCE Essential Heroes honorees will be streamed live via ESSENCE Studios during the virtual Festival experience on Saturday, July 4th.

The 2020 ESSENCE Festival is presented by Coca-Cola. Major sponsors include Ford, McDonald’s, Walmart, My Black is Beautiful, P&G.

For more information and to register, visit www.essencefestival.com. Join the conversation via social @EssenceFest.

 

*Artists and schedules are subject to change.

 

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC. 

Essence Communications, Inc. is the number one media, technology, and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities and inspires a global audience of more than 31 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and live events, including Black Women in Music™, Black Women in Hollywood™, Beauty Carnival™ and the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community, and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.

ABOUT THE ESSENCE FESTIVAL OF CULTURE

The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment, and empowerment experience and the global epicenter of Black culture. As a platform to advance global Black culture, economic ownership and inclusion, and community development, it has contributed more than $4 billion to the local New Orleans economy since its inception. It has also created a home for Black communities around the world and routinely attracts more than half a million international attendees over July 4th weekend. In 2019, the Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary–and annually contributes almost $300 million in economic impact to the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.

ESSENCE ANNOUNCES THE ESSENCE ESSENTIAL HEROES AWARDS HONORING ESSENTIAL WORKERS ON THE FRONTLINE OF COVID-19 #myessentialheroes

WHAT:                        As the fight against COVID-19 rages on, government and public health officials work to provide recommendations for reopening America. However, there is a heated debate as to whether these guidelines can do more harm than good—especially for the many essential workers who continue to be on the frontlines helping to ensure the nation’s health, safety, and essential needs are met. Whether working in the nation’s hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, delivery, and transportation services more, these are the brave women and men risking their lives to ensure that others can stay home safely.

ESSENCE is committed to honoring these workers with its first-ever ESSENCE Essential Heroes Awards program. This three-part, the year-long franchise will highlight those in our community who, despite systematic disparities, have risen to become Essential Heroes during this pandemic. ESSENCE will invite its audience to submit and vote on the essential heroes in their lives and communities for a chance to be featured.

In addition, the 50 ESSENCE Essential Heroes selected will be honored during the virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture on July 4th, which will be streamed live via ESSENCE Studios.

Share your story and nominate an essential working using the hashtag #myessentialheroes.

WHEN:                                      Submission deadline extended to Tuesday, May 19th via #myessentialheroes

 

ESSENCE Studios Stream National HBCU Commencement Celebration Live

Like most academic institutions around the country, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been forced to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To celebrate the achievements of more than 27,000 students, Black leaders and 78 schools are joining forces virtually during the “Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition” commencement event presented by Chase on May 16 at 2:00 pm ET.

President Barack Obama will share a special message during the event. Hosted by Kevin Hart, guest appearances for the 2-hour event will include Steve Harvey, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett, Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson, National Urban League president, Marc Morial, and academic leaders from participating HBCUs. Other participants include 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul, 8-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, Debbie Allen, and Vivica Fox.

The virtual commencement will also include performances by Anthony Hamilton, Wyclef Jean, Omari Hardwick, and other musical guests—as well as a drumline mash-up featuring Doug E. Fresh.

The 2-hour event will be live-streamed on Chase’s YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels, as well as HBCU Connect’s Facebook page and Essence Studios. More information is available on chase.com/hbcustudent, including a list of participating schools.

During the event, HBCUs will showcase and highlight past and current graduates, including Class of 2020 students from Howard University, Delaware State, Paul Quinn College, Florida Memorial College, and Texas Southern Law Center.

“Every student graduating in the Class of 2020 deserves to celebrate this moment—they earned it, even more so during a challenging year for our country and the world. We are showing up for them because we recognize they are our now and our future, and the way forward is full of opportunity,” said Duckett.

The idea for hosting a virtual commencement ceremony for HBCU students was conceived by Dr. Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College (PQC), and member of the ABP Advisory Council. Additional organizers for the event include Howard University, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the National Basketball Association (NBA.) Essence is supporting the event as a live streaming partner.

“As a result of COVID-19, our students have been robbed of a moment that they and their families have earned,” Sorrell said. “I am so grateful that this coalition of partners stepped up to answer the call of the HBCU community and stand in the gap for our students and their families.”

JPMorgan Chase is supporting “Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition” through its Advancing Black Pathways (ABP) initiative, created to help black communities close historical achievement gaps in three key areas: wealth creation, educational outcomes, and career success. Support for HBCUs is a core focus for JPMorgan Chase because of the vital role they continue to play in helping African Americans forge pathways to long-term success. The first HBCUs were founded before the Civil War, and these institutions educated generations of African Americans during a period when other colleges and universities would not.

Today, HBCUs produce 70% of African American doctors and dentists1, 50% of black lawyers and 80% of black judges.2 HBCU graduates can also expect work-life earnings of $130 billion—an additional $927,000 per graduate, 56 percent more than they could expect to earn without their HBCU degrees or certificates, according to UNCF.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities remain a critical resource in educating our young people and putting them on a path to lasting and rewarding careers,” said Sekou Kaalund, the Head of ABP. “Here at JPMorgan Chase, we are firmly committed to supporting HBCUs and helping them continue a tradition of excellence that has helped generations of black people achieve academic and professional success.”

ESSENCE WILL STREAM NATIONAL HBCU COMMENCEMENT CELEBRATION

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that has forced colleges and universities across the nation to postpone their commencement celebrations, a coalition of HBCU leaders, advocacy organizations, and corporate partners have come together to host the National HBCU Commencement Celebration.  The virtual event, the brainchild of Paul Quinn College president Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, will be streamed live internationally on ESSENCE Studios (www.essencestudios.com) thanks to a partnership with ESSENCE – the leading media, technology, and commerce company serving Black women and communities for 50 years.

The celebration will take place on Saturday, May 16, 2020, and will feature celebrity hosts, motivational speakers, musical performances, and the profiles of HBCU valedictorians and other graduates. In addition to highlighting this year’s graduates and their institutions, the event will raise funds for participating HBCUs and their students.

As the result of COVID-19, our students have been robbed of a moment that they and their families have earned,” said Sorrell. “I am so grateful that this coalition of partners stepped up to answer the call of the HBCU community and stand in the gap for our students and their families.”

In addition to Paul Quinn College, the celebration is being organized by Howard University, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Thurgood Marshal College Fund (TMCF), and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The event is being supported by several partners, including ESSENCE, JPMorgan Chase, and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“We are excited that graduates from our member-schools will receive the public recognition that they earned and deserved,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President, and CEO of TMCF, which represents 47-member schools. “This celebratory event is an effort to lift up all of our students and to let them know that we are proud of their hard work and perseverance, especially during these difficult times.”

Dr. Michael Lomax, President, and CEO of UNCF praised the event and said that the celebration will reinforce the importance and history of HBCUs.

“For 76 years, UNCF has helped more than half a million students graduate from college, and our mission remains the same even as we grapple with the impact of COVID-19,” said Lomax. “Students who receive a UNCF scholarship have a 70% graduation rate. I hope this program inspires viewers to support students to become college graduates.”

Funds raised during the event will go into an emergency fund to support HBCU students and will be distributed by TMCF and UNCF.  These dollars will go a long way in helping students who have been impacted by COVID-19.

“NAFEO is excited to join Dr. Michael Sorrell in realizing his vision and the dream of giving back to HBCU seniors, perhaps the most unfathomable aspect of their abrupt exile—the canceling of the commencement ceremonies,” said Lezli Baskerville, President, and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. “Denying the seniors and their families the opportunity to participate in the ceremonial walk down the aisle to higher ground and the receipt of a ticket to greater economic security, greater independence, opportunities for service, and leadership is a celebration we would not permit for our sons and daughters and their families to miss.”

Added Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President of Howard University: “Every HBCU in the country has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic due to interruptions to our academic year and the challenging transition to online learning,” said Frederick. “However, the loss that our seniors are experiencing with the abrupt end to their final semester and subsequent cancellation of the commencement convocation is the most heartbreaking part of this crisis. Hopefully this opportunity to come together as an HBCU community and celebrate these exceptional students will express our sincere gratitude to these scholars for their individual contributions to their respective institutions.”

JPMorgan Chase is supporting this effort through its Advancing Black Pathways initiative, which is committed to helping the black community achieve meaningful gains in three areas: educational achievement, career success, and wealth creation.

“Graduating from college is a sacred moment in a student’s life, and we are honored to support HBCUs, students and their families as we navigate one of the most unique and challenging periods in our nation’s history,” said Sekou Kaalund, the Head of Advancing Black Pathways. “Education is core to our mission of creating opportunity, and we are committed to helping black college students and graduates navigate this difficult environment and get on a path to lasting and rewarding careers.”

These deserving students have earned the right to commemorate and celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of receiving their diploma and launching the next phase of their lives,” said Oris Stuart, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer for the NBA. “The NBA is proud to support HBCUs and honor their graduates during this momentous occasion.”

“HBCUs have served as educational, social, and legacy pillars in the Black community for generations and continue to be an invaluable treasure to the nation,” said Richelieu Dennis, Founder, and Chair, Essence Ventures, the parent company of ESSENCE.  “For more than 180 years, these institutions have equipped students with the critical tools needed to create pathways to success and have cultivated generations of vanguards, trailblazers, and leaders.  As we come together to develop innovative solutions for these unprecedented times, we are excited to utilize our ESSENCE Studios platform to provide thousands of 2020 HBCU graduates and their loved ones from around the world with the special commencement experience and celebration they deserve.”