The phrase, “there is always hope,” is embodied in the persona of Susan L. Taylor, the award winning former editorial director of Essence magazine. Taylor came to Los Angeles to launch the local branch of Essence Cares: A National Mentoring Movement, which has the goal of registering one million people, particularly African Americans, to guide and support struggling African American youth.
At a standing room only affair hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of 100 Black Men, and held at the Museum of African American Art (located in Macy’s Baldwin Hills Mall), Taylor passionately outlined her dream to an audience of over 500 concerned citizens, politicians, community activists and professionals.
In her quiet, understated but always forthright and resolute demeanor, Taylor explained the impact one million mentors could make in the lives of African American youth. Mentors could ensure that young boys and girls would graduate from high school, finish college, realize their dreams of living a productive life, and become the nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers that our society so desperately needs.
Taylor said. “No matter what city, the statistics are the same… Fifty-eight percent of 3rd and 4th graders are functionally illiterate. We are less literate today than we were 40 years ago. We have fallen down because we are overwhelmed with our own lives….Let’s write a new history.”
Nonetheless, despite what might seem to be devastating statistics, Taylor offered the encouragement and hope needed to enlist the support of those in attendance, “We don’t have to do what Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, or Marcus Garvey did, we can put the underpinnings under our youth… Let’s not reinvent the wheel, just do what was done for us. Make an investment in our young black boys, put prisons out of business… We can still live high on the hog and take care of our youth… We have to model for our youth. We have to love one another… It only requires four hours a month.” And Essence Cares is Taylor’s vision of how to accomplish this task.
Essence Cares does not propose to duplicate mentoring programs that already exist, rather it endeavors to coordinate these efforts and increase involvement by one million people. According to the Essence Cares mission statement, recruitment will be”from every sector of the black community, corporate and public employees, entrepreneurs, union workers, civic and faith leaders, congregations and community activist, sororities and fraternities, college students.”
Thanks to the sponsorship of Our Weekly newspaper, 100 Black Men, Wells Fargo Bank, Macy’s and the Museum of African American Art, this affair was not simply provocative and challenging, but one that will certainly facilitate the recruitment of those one million role model mentors.
Essence Cares is being launched across the nation and has begun to involve the black community in Baltimore, Seattle, Atlanta, and San Francisco with the goal of establishing the program in 22 major cities by the end of the year.
Anyone interested in learning more about Essence Cares and/or becoming a mentor can visit essencecares.com.