Essence Magazine "Takes Back" Young, Gifted, and Black Minds

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[Helese TALKS!]

Magazine Launches Year Long Education Series

On the icy cold evening of Tuesday, January 3rd, media professionals, pro-athletes and press gathered on the elegant and scenic rooftop of the Strand Hotel --also known as “Top of the Strand”-- to celebrate the launching of Essence Magazine’s new education series, Mission Critical: Education First!

This special series will debut next week in the February’s issue of Essence.

The Mission Critical: Education First! series was born out of a need to address “the civil rights issue of our generation,” that African-American children across the country generally don’t do as well in school due to institutionalized racism, lack of resources, poverty, and the self-defeating beliefs and feelings of unworthiness that come along with those conditions.

Although there are entire Black communities that are exceptions, this initiative is addressing a dire and undeniable nationwide need. It’s not the first, and hopefully it won’t be the last. Bob Meadows, Deputy Editor of Essence Magazine says that there have been other education initiatives, but what makes this one different is that it leaves the self-pity behind for the new generation. “We’re not taking a 'woe is me' approach,” Meadows says.

The dynamic team of editors at Essence are planning to make this one standout amongst others by teaming up with experts in the education field and empowering readers with a lot of practical tools. “There’s still a lot of gaping disparities in the kinds of opportunities that our kids have in education, versus what other kids have in education. So, this is our attempt to help level the playing field,” says Essence Editor-in-Chief Constance C.R. White.

Essence will provide “solutions, ideas, inspiration, and hope” that speak to this problem. And they leave no stone unturned. The series will cover issues with home schooling, tips on finding the best quality schools in your area, and resources on how to take a failing school and make it better.

The first article in the series was written by Dr. Steve Perry, renowned education advocate and author of the book, "Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids The Education They Deserve (Even If It Means Picking a Fight)". A former teacher and social worker, and currently a principal in Hartford, Connecticut, Dr. Perry is very vocal about many aspects of education, particularly about parents getting more involved with the politics of education in order to make the school as a whole better, where the root of the problem often lies.

He stresses that parents have to take responsibility for not only their child’s education, but the community at large.

The young and effervescent Sanya Richards Ross,  wife of New York Giants’ Aarons Ross --who also was at the event-- helped inspire the series.

Originally from Jamaica, she was dismayed by the declining literacy rates in schools. She started The Sanya Richards Fast Track Program with 50 children five years ago, and now they serve 1,000, with a 90% success rate of raising the reading level of students to their appropriate grade level.

The program also uses sports to help students create a healthy lifestyle, and gives them social skills needed to compete in the job market. Her inspiring speech that evening emphasized the phenomenon of something starting small and ending up larger than one can imagine. She affirmed from experience that a “great education is the foundation for success.”

With Essence Magazine spearheading this exciting new series, it is surely a foundation we can all build upon.

Helese TALKS! is a new weekly column that will appear on the website as well as in The Black Star News

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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