2018 Essence Fest kicks off with annual day of service

NEW ORLEANS - Over its 48-year history, the predominant theme of Essence Magazine has been one of empowerment and helping the community.

Over the course of the Essence Festival's run in New Orleans, that theme takes shape in the form of the day of service to kick off the festival.

"We intentionally kick off the festival every year with a commitment to the community, and we're so grateful to be here at the YMCA,” Essence Communications General Manager Joy Collins Profet said. “We're working with women and girls, and that's what Essence is all about, empowering black women and uplifting and encouraging them and giving them everything that they need to live wonderful, amazing, aspirational lives."

While there was a lot of fun and enthusiasm in the air, Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke about the responsibility we also have to make our city better.

"We have to set the tone for how we want to respect ourselves, respect our community, respect all of our people who live here and as well as visit, so we collectively will be joining in the doing just that in the heart of central city, Oretha Castle Haley,” Cantrell said.

Of course, the effort to do service was multiplied by Essence's culling of sponsors and the armies that they employ, all in the task today of helping central city.

“What's more important today is giving back to our community,” Henry Coaxum of Coaxum Enterprises and McDonald's said. “We're deeply-rooted in the communities that we serve, and we're always engaged. This is my home and I love it."