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Old Dominion University will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a talk by Susan L. Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine, Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 1 p.m. in the Hampton/Newport News Room in Webb University Center.

The driving force behind Essence, Taylor is responsible for the editorial mission and vision of the award-winning publication and writes the popular "In the Spirit" column each month. She oversees the content of all divisions and productions of the multimedia organization, including The Essence Music Festival and the Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit.

A fourth-generation entrepreneur, Taylor researched and developed her own line of customized cosmetics and natural skin-care products and launched a successful business in 1970-the same year Essence debuted. Within weeks of its introduction, the cosmetics company came to the attention of Essence editors, and Taylor was recruited to help the fledgling publication shape its beauty pages. In 1971 she was named the magazine's beauty editor, and a year later her position was expanded to include fashion. She was named editor-in-chief in 1981 and the company's editorial director in 2000.

In her leadership role, Taylor has guided Essence through a period of phenomenal growth, making it the largest and most highly regarded magazine for black women in the world. Her efforts have been recognized with distinctive honors and a monthly readership of nearly eight million, a third of whom are men.

Taylor has been instrumental as well in the growth of the Essence brand. In 1984, she launched "Essence," America's first nationally syndicated black-oriented magazine-format television show. The weekly program, which ran for four seasons, aired in more than 60 U.S. markets and in several Caribbean and African countries.

Taylor also served as executive producer of The Essence Awards, the award-winning network television special. She functions in a similar capacity for the annual Essence Music Festival, which brings chart-topping performers and more than 250,000 people to New Orleans during the Fourth of July holiday each year. Taylor's Empowerment Seminars, which bring together some of the most dynamic speakers to address issues of vital concern to African-Americans, have become the highlight of the Festival.

As arbiter of the style and substance that have made the Essence brand world-famous, Taylor is the guiding force in the diversified company's many ventures, including Essence Books, Essence Eyewear and Essence Entertainment. A much-sought-after speaker, she is also the author of three books-the perennially best-selling "In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor," 'Lessons in Living" and "Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives," which she coauthored with her husband, Khephra Burns.

A graduate of Fordham University, Taylor is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Society of Magazine Editors. She has also served as a member of the Commission on Research in Black Education, an initiative of the prestigious American Educational Research Association.

She has received numerous awards and citations, notably the highest honor awarded to a publishing professional by the Magazine Publishers of America, The Henry Johnson Fisher Award, which recognizes people who have dedicated their lives to the magazine business and helped the industry thrive and expand. In 2002 Taylor was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) Hall of Fame, which celebrates the career-long records of excellence and creativity of a select group of highly influential magazine journalists.

Taylor is an avid supporter of numerous organizations dedicated to moving black people forward. She is currently cochair of a capital campaign with Danny Glover for Shared Interest, a U.S.-based organization that guarantees credit to low-income South African families and communities. Taylor is also cofounder of The Future PAC, the first national Black women's political action committee.

This article was posted on: January 17, 2007

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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.