Inside Essence: “Zuri Adele Is Teaching, Learning, And Storytelling Through Her Role On ‘Good Trouble'”

13 Apr

Growing up in a household with a newspaperman, our coffee table displayed the full range of publications: Of course, there was the Pittsburgh Courier, where my father spent the last years of his career. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette landed on our front porch every morning, and the Pittsburgh Press arrived in the afternoon. My parents were subscribers to Life and Look magazines and to Ebony.

I was a freshman in high school when Essence published its first issue. in May 1970. A magazine devoted solely to the concerns of Black women? That was major.

These days, seeing Black women on the covers of so-called “mainstream” publications is not such a big deal. The May 2022 issue of Vogue features a resplendent and pregnant Rihanna. But she’s been on the cover of Vogue alone more than a few dozen times. We’ve become accustomed to all kinds of magazines featuring the full range of Black women from Beyoncé to Michelle Obama.

Even back in the day, there were rare sightings of Black beauties on mainstream covers. I still have a copy of Life published Nov. 1, 1954, the week I was born. It features Dorothy Dandridge on the cover. Black model, Donyale Luna, appeared on the cover of Vogue UK in 1966. But it was not until 1974 that Beverly Johnson became the first Black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue.

Still, beginning in May 1970, Essence was the one publication I could count on to embrace every aspect of our unique experience as a Black women — as political activists, as artists, as romantic parters, as parents, as professionals. Essence celebrated and examined our beautiful and unique bodies, our hair, our skin and our style.

When I was an undergraduate at Chatham College, Marcia Ann Gillespie, then the magazine’s editor-in-chief, gave a keynote, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I would not have imagined that in less than 10 years, I’d be working on the editorial staff of Essence myself.

And now, 35 years after I moved on from the magazine, Zuri Adele is featured in its pages in an article titled “Zuri Adele Is Teaching, Learning, And Storytelling Through Her Role On ‘Good Trouble.'”

Essence‘s impact has always been personal, and that legacy continues.

Zuri Adele (Photo Credit: Jennifer Johnson Photography @JenJphoto)

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