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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

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July 04, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu welcomed the ESSENCE Festival back to New Orleans for four days of daytime seminars, evening concerts and cultural events including the first ever Family Reunion Day in Woldenberg Park. This year, the city’s signature summer celebration is adding presentations and sessions about murder reduction, strengthening families and empowering girls. 

 “For 19 years and counting, ESSENCE has been a tremendous partner and we’re proud to host the festival in New Orleans again this year,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This event draws artists and participants from around the world, creating a lasting economic impact and positioning New Orleans as a top destination for the Fourth of July.”

"We're delighted to return to New Orleans for the 19th annual ESSENCE Festival, with a renewed focus on family, said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks. "New Orleans continues to be a terrific partner. The administration's focus on creating stronger families is at the heart of what we do at ESSENCE and what we will bring to life at the ESSENCE Festival --via engaging activities for all ages and empowerment panels on the critical issues impacting our communities."

This year’s festival kicks off today with the first ever Family Reunion Day in Woldenberg Park from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hosted by Carla Ferrell of The Steve Harvey Morning Show, the free event invites families and friends to experience a free, fun-filled day of cooking demonstrations, prizes, a children’s petting zoo and games and a fireworks display. Ferrell will host the event alongside DJ Mike Swift. Biz Markie, the Brass-A-Holics, CUPID, Doug E. Fresh, Gina Brown, Tweet and Stooges Brass Band will also perform.

In addition to the evening concerts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, residents and visitors can enjoy free daytime issue based seminars will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

“We’re pleased that this year’s festival will provide an international platform for the issues we are addressing in our city every day. Through NOLA FOR LIFE, our comprehensive murder reduction strategy, we are elevating the conversation about ending the unnatural culture of violence in New Orleans and in cities across America,” Mayor Landrieu.

Free issue based empowerment seminars inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center that feature representatives from New Orleans include:

(Thursday, July 4th

  • Why Our Children Should Come Home (10:35 - 11:00am) will New Orleans Deputy Mayor Judy Reese Morse, New Orleans resident Patrina Peters, and commentator Roland Martin in a discussion of what citizens can do to secure children’s future and give them the tools they need to resolve conflicts without violence. 
  • Saving Our Sons (11:20 - 11:50am) will feature Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, actor Ameer Baraka, filmmaker Devon Franklin, rapper and New Orleans native Master P, and educator and commentator Dr. Steve Perry will discuss what it takes to rear successful young men. The moderator will be Soledad O’Brien.
  • Feeding Our Children: Mind, Body, Soul, (12:15 - 12:45pm) will feature  New Orleans’ First Lady Cheryl Landrieu, Carol Bebelle of the Ashe Cultural Arts Cente, Tonya Lewis Lee, Dr. Denese Shervington will explore the mental, physical and spritual tactics needed for our children to lead a well-rounded, balanced life.
  • Girl Power (1:20 - 1:35pm) WWL-TV reporter Sheba Turk and Girl Up NOLA Ambassadors Toi Monroe & Jonshell  discuss the impact young women will have on the future of our communities.
  • Additionally, Sisterhood, Stardom and Living in the Spotlight with Traci and Trina Braxton (2:00 - 2:30pm) will feature the Braxton sisters discussing the joys and complications of sisterhood.
    The moderator will be Soledad O’Brien.

(Saturday, July 6th

  • Reducing Violence and Murder in America, featuring Mayor Landrieu, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta and Mayor William A. Bell of Birmingham. The panel will take place 11:10-11:40am in the Convention Center.

(Sunday, July 7th)

  • ESSENCE and Mayor Landrieu will host “Love, Loss and Life’, a special prayer vigil for mothers who have loved and lost, on Sunday, July 7th at 9am. The program will include testimonies from mothers, choir performances, a moment of prayer, a second line procession and a pledge by the community to stop the violence that is plaguing American cities. In addition, a ‘Wall of Remembrance’ featuring images of the children lost to violence will be created on-site and the pledge will be shared around the world via the NOLA FOR LIFE AND ESSENCE Guns Down social media platforms. 

ESSENCE found its home in New Orleans in 1995 as a celebration of the ESSENCE magazine’s 25th anniversary and has since defined New Orleans as the definitive July 4th cultural destination for African Americans. In 2012, total attendance at the festival’s free daytime seminars and nighttime concerts was an estimated 413,000.

“From the empowering and uplifting seminars, the community outreach and the amazing musical lineup, ESSENCE is a festival unlike any other. Its importance to our festival calendar, community and culture simply can’t be understated,” said Scott Hutcheson, Advisor to Mayor for the Cultural Economy.

City Hall will be closed Thursday, July 4, 2013 in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

City Hall will also be closed on Friday, July 5, 2013 due to increased traffic and limited access to City Hall during ESSENCE Festival.

Emergency personnel will operate as normal and will not be affected by this closure.

City Hall will resume normal business hours on Monday, July 8, 2013.


Developed in May 2012, NOLA FOR LIFE (#nolaforlife) is New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy. Recognizing that law enforcement alone cannot solve the murder problem, the NOLA FOR LIFE takes a holistic approach to get to the root of the problem and advances initiatives in five main categories including: Stop the Shooting; Invest in Prevention; Promote Jobs and Opportunity; Improve the NOPD; and Get Involved and Rebuild Neighborhoods. Visit for more information.


Led by New Orleans - First Lady Cheryl Landrieu, the Girl Up NOLA (#girlupnola) initiative promotes the importance of all girls and young women to the City of New Orleans and to the world. By generating inspiration, building connections with positive role models, and increasing access to opportunities and resources within their own communities and beyond, Girl Up NOLA provides a platform for young women and the women who care for them to further their own goals. Girl Up NOLA seeks to empower girls to play an active role in their own personal development and to assist them in navigating the pathways to a successful future.


Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online.  The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 43 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of 9.6 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives.  Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at


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Last updated: 7/5/2013 12:06:33 PM

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