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Marcia Ann Gillespie

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Information about Marcia Ann Gillespie

Profile image of Marcia Ann Gillespie

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Magazine Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Oysters
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica, Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Shit Happens

Birthplace

Born:
7/10/1944
Birth Location:
Rockville Centre, New York

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Magazine Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Oysters
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica, Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Shit Happens

Birthplace

Born:
7/10/1944
Birth Location:
Rockville Centre
See how Marcia Ann Gillespie is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Magazine editor Marcia Ann Gillespie was born on July 10, 1944 in Rockville Centre, New York. Her father, Charles M. Gillespie, was a church sexton and ran a floor waxing business; her mother, Ethel Young Gillespie, a domestic worker who operated a catering business on the side. Gillespie and her sister, Charlene Gillespie, grew up- in Long Island, New York. She graduated from a mostly white and Jewish high school and then enrolled in Lake Forest College where she graduated with honors with her B.A. degree in American studies in 1966.

Upon graduation, Gillespie worked as a researcher at Time-Life Books, Inc. in New York City. She was hired as a managing editor at the newly-founded African American publication Essence Magazine in 1970 and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 1971. While there, she transformed Essence Magazine into one of the fastest growing women’s publications in the United States. Gillespie joined Ms. Magazine in 1980 and served in several capacities, including as a contributing writer, contributing editor, and executive editor. In 1992, she was named editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine, making her the first African American woman to achieve that position at a mainstream publication in the United States. She went on to serve as president of Liberty Media for Women in 1996 after the company purchased Ms. Magazine from the McDonald Communications Corporation. Gillespie also served as a guest lecturer and advisor to the vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

Gillespie served on the board of directors of the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health, the Black & Jewish Women of New York, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. She also was appointed to the advisory board of the Aspen Institute, the New Federal Theater in New York City, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. Gillespie is a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the American Association of Magazine Editors.

In 1973 received the Lake Forest College Outstanding Alumni Award; and, in 1978, she received the New York Women in Communications Matrix Award in 1978. The New York Association of Black Journalists honored Gillespie with its Life Achievement Award for Print Journalism. In 1982, Gillespie was named as one of the “Top Ten Outstanding Women in Magazine Publishing” by the March of Dimes.

Marcia Ann Gillespie was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2013.

See how Marcia Ann Gillespie is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie narrates her photographs
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcia Ann Gillespie
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie lists her favorites
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her maternal family history, talking about her great-grandmother's life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her mother's life in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her paternal family history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her father's move to Long Island, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie desceribes how her parents met and their early marriage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marcia Ann Gillespie shares her early memories of her parents
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the segregation at Rockville Centre elementary schools in New York in the 1940's.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her earliest memories of Rockville Centre, New York and her parents
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her parent's involvement in community affairs in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the town and her parent's civic involvement in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her impressions of her church as a girl in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her ambivalence about her church growing up in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - MARCIA ANN GILLESPIE shares her experiences in elementary school in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her interests and friends in elementary and junior high school in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes what books and periodicals she read as a child
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie recalls the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 and a visit to her house from activist Bayard Rustin
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie recalls the 1963 March on Washington
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her youth activism, including watching the March on Washington in 1963
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the FBI investigating her parents in 1960
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her attendance at Southside Senior High School in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the counseling she received at Southside High School in Rockville Centre, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes how she funded her college education at Lake Forest College, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the professors who influenced her while attending Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes tutoring at the Robert Taylor Homes Housing Projects while attending Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the people she met while attending Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about American Studies at Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the culture at Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her interest in black history and issues of culture at Lake Forest College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on the Civil Rights Movement during her attendance at Lake Forest College, pt 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on the Civil Rights Movement during her attendance at Lake Forest College, pt 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her graduation from Lake Forest College in 1966
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her early career at Time, Incorporate in 1966
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about book publishing at Time, Incorporated
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about working on a series for Time, Life about new leaders for the black community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie remembers leaving Time, Incorporated and moving to Essence Magazine
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on her skills at editing at Essence Magazine in 1970
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the process of becoming editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine in 1971
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her vision for Essence Magazine when she became its editor in 1971
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her audience for Essence Magazine
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the departments in Essence Magazine
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her vision to show a range of black beauty
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie shares some of her favorite issues and covers Essence ran
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the biggest challenges of being editor-in-chief at Essence Magazine
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the challenges of balancing readership and the target audience of Essence magazine