The 2015 ESSENCE Festival has come to a close, but whether it was Kendrick Lamar‘s astonishing performance featuring all of his hits, some love for NOLA, or a tribute to Tupac, those few short days featured a ton of epic moments, and some serious empowerment.
It could have been Missy‘s stellar performance that had the entire crowd on their feet until the lights went out. It could have been Kevin Hart kicking off the festival with a comedy performance that left us all in tears. It could have been Beyonce popping up at a party with Solange and Kelly that left the entire festival talking.
Either way, the ESSENCE Fest was filled with love spearheaded by its sponsors. The four-day celebration in New Orleans started off with a ‘Peace, Prayer & Purpose Rally’ to bring the Black Lives Matter conversation to life during a daytime Empowerment Experience.
We also got to meet some of the great people at Verizon, who launched a campaign to collect one million old phones as a donation to support their HopeLine® Initiative.
The HopeLine® takes those no-longer-used wireless phones, batteries, chargers and accessories in any condition, from any service provider, recycles them, and turns the profit into support for domestic violence awareness and prevention organizations.
They gave 50 women from New Orleans the VIP ESSENCE Fest experience with a chance to meet Morris Chestnut. The Perfect Guy actor – who was raised by his mother and grandmother – said he needed to take time out of his schedule in order to give back to his biggest fan base.
“First off, I love the Hope Line Initiative, with women being the backbone of my life, and in general women have been a big supporter of myself and my projects. My main fan base is women,” he said. “Also in the community, Black women are a strong value to our community, so every chance I can give back to them for what they’ve done for me, as well as what they’ve done in their community, is something I’m going to always try to do.”
ESSENCE Fest also featured the launch of P&G’s My Black Is Beautiful new #AllTogetherBeautiful campaign, which encourages women to let others know they are beautiful. Singer/songwriter Sevyn explained to us why MBIB is so important.
I also attended a dinner hosted by Ford and recording artist Andra Day at the Little Gem Stone, during which Shawn Lollie, Multicultural Marketing Manager at The Ford Company, told us all about the importance of getting Black women behind the wheel. Ford gave everyone who stopped by their Ride and Drive booth and signed up to test drive a Ford vehicle at the 2015 ESSENCE Festival a $750 bonus cash offer towards the purchase of any new 2014 or 2015 Ford vehicle.
The company also revealed their new GT. It’s sick.
McDonald’s even had a Lovin’ Skate Jam bash on deck, where they took people back in time to the ’80s and ’90s with music and artwork. It was a fun event that served as the after party for the 365 Black Awards, which honored filmmaker Ava DuVernay.
The entire weekend was filled with respect, great music, and giving back. The only thing we can say? ESSENCE has done it again.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Mitchell, Getty