Roland Martin talks with Bishop T.D. Jakes, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Constance C. R. White, Editor-in-Chief, “Essence” Magazine about the importance of the Essence Music Festival.
MR. MARTIN: And I keep telling y’all you will see anybody and everybody here at the Essence Music Festival, and although he is a bishop, pastors all over the world – you do not miss a party!
BISHOP T. D. JAKES: Well, now, I don’t know about – [chuckles] – I don’t know whether I would say that!
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]
BISHOP JAKES: That was a great opening line. Let’s say –
MR. MARTIN: Okay. A praise party.
BISHOP JAKES: — well, I ha- — I have been to Essence Music Festival about four times, mostly speaking. I’m being honored with a humanitarian award, and my daughter’s come along to be with me since my wife couldn’t come, and I’m glad to be here.
MR. MARTIN: Well, Bishop, what does this gathering mean, because it really is one of the biggest events targeting African-Americans anywhere in the country?
BISHOP JAKES: Well, it celebrates African-American communities from all aspects of life – not just spirituality, but music, culture, Black business. It is a galvanizing point for the Black community, and I think it’s very, very important that we support one another.
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU: Essence is the largest gathering of African-American business owners, business entertainers and social entrepreneurs of anywhere in the country, and it’s one of our largest events.
MS. CONSTANCE C. R. WHITE: The Essence Music Festival has become one of the premier events in the African-American community and, really, in American life. I think about it, and I think about its – its location in New Orleans and what New Orleans – how it is a center, a crucible for African-American culture, and so is “Essence” magazine.
MAYOR LANDRIEU: This is a party with a purpose, and so a lot of people concentrate on the first-class entertainment that goes on in the Super Dome. Very few people know that the entire convention center is completely full with some of the best thinkers and business leaders, where we talk about events that are really critical to the future of America.
MS. WHITE: Because “Essence” magazine is a media property which is the only one that celebrates and advocates for Black women, it’s a very important part of cultural life, and the festival is really the magazine come to life.