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Audrey Edwards

Magazine editor and author Audrey M. Edwards was born on April 21, 1947 in Tacoma, Washington. Edwards received her B.A. degree from the University of Washington in 1969, and her M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1974.

In 1970, Edwards began her career at Redbook magazine as an associate editor in the fiction department. She served for one year as editor of Community New Service, a black and Puerto Rican news service in 1974. Then, in 1975, Edwards went to Fairchild Publications where she was hired as a news reporter for the trade paper, Supermarket News, and was then promoted to the promotions news editor position. In 1977, Edwards joined Black Enterprise magazine as an associate editor, but left in 1978 to become a senior editor at Family Circle magazine. Edwards was named executive editor of Essence magazine in 1981, and was promoted to the position of editor two years later. She left Essence in 1986 to open a real estate brokerage firm, Plaza Properties, but continued to write for the magazine as a contributing editor/writer. In 1990, she returned to Black Enterprise magazine as executive editor and vice president of editorial operations, while continuing to run her real estate business. In 1998, Edwards became a senior editor at More magazine.

In 2008, after successfully running her real estate company for twenty-two years, Edwards joined the real estate firm of Brown Harris Stevens as an associate broker. In addition, Edwards has served as an adjunct professor of magazine writing and magazine editing at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and New York University, respectively.

Edwards has consistently freelanced as a journalist, and her work has appeared in numerous publications including Vibe, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Columbia Journalism Review, Essence, More, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour and Black Enterprise. Edwards has also authored several books including, Children of the Dream: The Psychology of Black Success, published by Doubleday in 1992, and co-written with Dr. Craig Polite. Her latest work is a collaboration with Edward Lewis, co-founder, CEO and publisher of Essence magazine, on his business memoir, The Man From Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women, to be published by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) in 2014.

Edwards’ professional affiliations include membership in the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ), The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). She served as a regional director of NABJ from 1981 to 1983, and was the program co-chair for the NABJ Annual Convention held in New York in 1989. In 1992, Edwards received an NYABJ Excellence Award for Magazine Feature Writing.

Audrey Edwards was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 12, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.320

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/12/2013

Last Name

Edwards

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Washington

Columbia University

Rogers Elementary School

Gault Middle School

Lincoln High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Audrey

Birth City, State, Country

Tacoma

HM ID

EDW05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/21/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Magazine editor and author Audrey Edwards (1947 - ) was the executive editor and editor of Essence magazine, and also served as executive editor and vice president of editorial operations at Black Enterprise magazine.

Employment

Redbook

Community News Service

Fairchild Publications/Supermarket News

Black Enterprise

Family Circle

Essence

Plaza Properties

More Magazine

Brown Harris Stevens

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

New York University Graduate School of Journalism

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Audrey Edwards' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards talks about her maternal grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards remembers segregation in Danville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards talks about her mother's U.S. Army service

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards talks about her West Indian identity

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Audrey Edwards talks about her relationship with her brother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Audrey Edwards remembers attending Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards remembers living in Japan, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards remembers living in Japan, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards recalls attending an all-black school in Danville, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards talks about living in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards remembers her family's first home in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards talks about her father's first marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards recalls her transition to Gault Junior High School in Tacoma, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards remembers narrowly avoiding a fight with a classmate

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Audrey Edwards describes her activities at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Audrey Edwards recalls her parents' views on the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards talks about her father's Caribbean heritage

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards describes her parents' community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards talks about her early religious experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards recalls her childhood aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards recalls attending the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards remembers attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards recalls her academic experiences at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards describes her return to Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards recalls briefly attending Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Audrey Edwards remembers meeting her half-sisters

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Audrey Edwards recalls moving to New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards lists publications where she has worked

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards recalls learning about her Caribbean heritage in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards remembers working for Redbook

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards describes her decision to leave Redbook

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards remembers working at Columbia University's Urban Center in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards talks about joining Black Enterprise

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards recalls working for the Community News Service and Supermarket News

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards remembers her experiences writing for Supermarket News

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards describes her position at Black Enterprise

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards remembers working for Family Circle

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Audrey Edwards recalls her decision to join Essence, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards recalls her decision to join Essence, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards remembers working with Susan Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards describes memorable stories from Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards remembers the staff dynamics at Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards describes the challenges of starting a magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards recalls Essence's first men's issue

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards talks about Susan Taylor's 'In the Spirit' column

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards describes Essence magazine's coverage of Vanessa Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards talks about covering historically significant events

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards describes the prominent figures at Essence magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards talks about her freelance editing career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards talks about the Essence Achievement Awards and Essence television show

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards recalls being chosen to co-author a book with Edward Lewis

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards describes the founding of Essence magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards remembers Essence's first three editors-in-chief

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards describes the Essence television show

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards talks about the editorial process at Essence

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards talks about hiring African Americans at Essence

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards recalls her attempt to hire African Americans for Essence's television show

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards describes her role on the Essence television show

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards talks about the editors at Essence Magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards describes Essence magazine's political coverage

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards talks about Essence's appeal to men

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards describes Essence magazine's varying subject matter

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards recalls her decision to leave Essence magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards talks about her marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Audrey Edwards describes her successors at Essence magazine

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards recalls working as the editor-at-large of Black Enterprise

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards describes her book, 'Children of The Dream'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards recalls writing 'Children of The Dream' with Craig K. Polite

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards describes the reactions to 'Children of The Dream'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards recalls writing an Essence coffee table book

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards talks about her move to Paris, France

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards describes her real estate business

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards recalls working at More magazine

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards talks about her freelance writing career

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards remembers writing 'Bring Me Home A Black Girl,' pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards remembers writing 'Bring Me Home A Black Girl,' pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Audrey Edwards talks about the importance of a black press

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Audrey Edwards describes the role of Black Enterprise

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Audrey Edwards talks about Time Warner, Inc.'s acquisition of Essence

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Audrey Edwards describes Essence founder Edward Lewis

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Audrey Edwards remembers Susan Taylor's retirement

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Audrey Edwards talks about the importance of training successors

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Audrey Edwards describes her concerns for the black press

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Audrey Edwards describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Audrey Edwards reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Audrey Edwards narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

11$6

DATitle
Audrey Edwards recalls her decision to join Essence, pt. 1
Audrey Edwards talks about Essence's appeal to men
Transcript
Oddly enough, when the Essence opportunity came along, I initially turned it down because--now I'm thinking as a history maker--Family Circle is about to make me articles editor, which is now almost part of management, which would have been a coup for a black woman to make articles editor. And I wanted to do something historic, and that was become articles editor. And I--and Ed Lewis [HistoryMaker Edward Lewis] called me when [HistoryMaker] Susan Taylor was made editor-in-chief. She was putting together a staff. He called me first, took me to lunch, and I told him no, wasn't interested. And you know what turned it around? My friend [Emile Milne] who had taken my place at Black Enterprise. The person they made a senior editor, he told me, "If you don't want that job at Essence, I do." And I'm like they're not gonna give this--it was--it was the executive editor; that was the title, executive editor. I'm like they're not giving this to you. And then the managing editor at Family Circle, who was a white man, said to me, "Are you crazy? You have an opportunity to go work for a real magazine." And I'm like, "But Family Circle is number one." He did not view--he just said, "You have an opportunity to work for a magazine that is fairly new, reflects who you are; it's geared to black women." So it took two men to turn me around (laughter). And I called Susan over the weekend, and I said, "Look," and I had met with her also, and I said, "I'd like the weekend to think about the offer." And I called her on Monday and said I'd take it, but I initially said no.$The other thing the magazine did under, under Susan [HistoryMaker Susan Taylor] that I think was absolutely groundbreaking was create a dialogue between black women and black men. Because what was going on--the big thing going on culturally in the '80s [1980s] was this schism all of a sudden. Well, I don't know if it was all of a sudden, but there was a real schism between black men and black women. You know, there was--there was a lot of fallout from Alice Walker's book, 'The Color Purple,' Gloria Naylor's book, 'Women of Brewster Place,' ['The Women of Brewster Place'] and Ntozake [HistoryMaker Ntozake Shange] play, 'For Colored Girls' ['For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf']. You know, that had men up in arms, sometimes women up in arms. And the magazine became a forum for men and women to talk to each other. And at its height, 25 percent of Essence's readers were men, which was very significant for a women's magazine because it meant that men wanted to know what women were thinking. And men wrote for the magazine, so women could find out what they were thinking--very important. And, again, not what typical women's magazines were doing. And then a lot of magazines started copying. You know, all of a sudden women's magazines were doing special issue on men, and that was started by Essence.