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Susan Taylor

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Information about Susan Taylor

Profile image of Susan Taylor

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Magazine Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa, Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
All for one and one for all.

Birthplace

Born:
1/23/1946
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Magazine Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa, Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
All for one and one for all.

Birthplace

Born:
1/23/1946
Birth Location:
New York
See how Susan Taylor is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Susan Taylor was born in New York in 1946. In her early twenties, the young entrepreneur started Nequai Cosmetics, one of the first companies to create beauty products for African American women. Although her product line was well received in African American communities and in the Caribbean, Taylor was interested in expanding her career. She heard that Essence Magazine, a fledgling publication catering to African American women, was looking for a beauty editor. Taylor approached the then editor-in-chief Ed Lewis for the position and, in 1970 at the age of twenty-three, was hired. Although Susan Taylor had never attended college, she was a licensed cosmetologist who understood the specific needs and concerns of black women. Her monthly articles were popular with African American females who were historically undervalued and underrepresented by media companies. Taylor soon became responsible for fashion as well as beauty and, in 1981, was promoted to editor-in-chief, a post which she held until July 2000.

Under Susan's expert guidance, Essence Magazine experienced phenomenal growth. Their monthly readership soared to over five million people, reaching black women all over the world. Capturing the hearts of Essence readers was Susan's monthly column "In the Spirit," which addressed themes such as family, faith, self-esteem and health. Her motivational features culminated in the popular books, "In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor" and "Lessons In Living." She also became a popular speaker on the lecture circuit.

In March 1986, Taylor was elected vice president of Essence Communication, Inc. and senior vice president in 1993. She was the host and executive producer of "Essence," the country's first nationally syndicated African-oriented magazine television show, the Essence Awards show and the Essence Music Festival.

Although she recently stepped down from her duties as editor-in-chief, Susan Taylor will remain as the chief editorial executive responsible for the overall vision, articles and images of the publication. She also maintains a high profile in the community, where she is a staunch advocate for the nation's poor. Taylor is an avid supporter of Edwin Gould Services for Children, a foster-care agency, and serves on the advisory board for Aid to Imprisoned Mothers. Many recognize her tireless work and charitable contributions. In 1988, Taylor received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the nation's first black college, Lincoln University and a second honorary doctorate for the University of Delaware in 1993. She is a recipient of the 1992 First Person award from the New York City Mission Society.

Mother to Shanna Nequai, Susan currently lives in New York with her husband Khephra Burns.

See how Susan Taylor is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Susan Taylor interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Susan Taylor lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Susan Taylor explores her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Susan Taylor describes her father's personality and work ethic
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Susan Taylor details her mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Susan Taylor addresses stereotypes of West Indians
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Susan Taylor shares childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Susan Taylor lists her schools
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Susan Taylor reflects on her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Susan Taylor recalls her early sexual experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Susan Taylor compares her personal traits to her parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Susan Taylor remembers her grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Susan Taylor recalls her high school experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Susan Taylor recounts her childhood job experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Susan Taylor remembers her first boyfriends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Susan Taylor recalls getting out on her own
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Susan Taylor recounts her stint as an actress
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Susan Taylor remembers her first marriage and founding a cosmetics company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Susan Taylor details the early years at Essence magazine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Susan Taylor relates how she became editor in chief at Essence
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Susan Taylor discusses overcoming discrimination and building Essence magazine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Susan Taylor recounts her experiences as editor-in-chief of Essence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Susan Taylor illustrates the value extroversion to her career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Susan Taylor discusses balancing career and family
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Susan Taylor recalls her first issue as editor-in-chief of Essence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Susan Taylor remembers meeting Winnie and Nelson Mandela
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Susan Taylor details the creation of the Essence Music Festival and the Essence Awards
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Susan Taylor reflects on the challenges and triumphs of making Essence a major publication
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Susan Taylor describes her new position as publications director for Essence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Susan Taylor talks about her marriage
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Susan Taylor reflects on her courtship and second marriage
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Susan Taylor discusses the challenges of parenting
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Susan Taylor remembers her mother's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Susan Taylor describes her spiritual reawakening
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Susan Taylor shares her views on the future of the black community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Susan Taylor ponders civil rights history in America
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Susan Taylor lists her role models
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Susan Taylor ponders her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - Susan Taylor with her husband, Khephra Burns, at the Miami Ballet, Miami, Florida, February 2001
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Susan Taylor with Winnie and Nelson Mandela, Soweto, South Africa, 1987
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Susan Taylor and others with Nelson Mandela, Soweto, South Africa, 1987
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Susan Taylor with Clarence Smith, Ed Lewis, and Rosa Parks, ca. 1992
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Susan Taylor with Max Robinson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Susan Taylor with sailors
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Susan Taylor's granddaughter, Amina King, ca. 1999
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Susan Taylor with Dr. Betty Shabazz and Shabazz's daughters
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Susan Taylor and others with Lauryn Hill