The 2017 Essence Festival Speakers List Couldn't Be More Empowering
With blizzards still sweeping the northeast, it may be hard to picture summertime fun ... but, it's just a few months away.
Per tradition, the annual Essence Festival will be held July 4th weekend, and in addition to the musical performances that draw thousands to New Orleans each year for it, the Essence Empowerment Experience Stage will also make its return.
Held June 30 to July 2 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the free event will serve as a platform for passion and purpose with prominent social media activists, community organizers, and more, addressing crowds with powerful messages.
The magazine announced its line-up of speakers for the series Thursday, with Ava Duvernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Congress Maxine Waters, and Phaedra Parks topping the list of the influencers set to take the stage.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Luvvie Ajayi, activist April Reign, National Women's March Co-Founder Tamika D. Mallory and Bishop Lester Love, will also address the crowd, along with Mary Pat Hector and poet Cleo Wade, who will discuss a "new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation's leaders," Essence said in a statement.
WATCH: Our Favorite Essence Festival Moments
DJ Charles "Bam Bam" Belonge and house band Church Friends will provide the music, and Cheryl Wills will host an all-star gospel tribute to soul and gospel music icon Dr. Cissy Houston.
"This year's Essence Festival will be the largest gathering of African Americans following the presidential election, as activists and policymakers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities across America," Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca said in a statement.
"Intergenerational programming spanning love, health, money, politics and religion will provide the tools to facilitate healing and growth through the sharing of expertise and experiences."