Greatness right before me: Susan L. Taylor

Sankofa, a word in the Akan language of Ghana, translates in English to “reach back and get it.” It has also been stated to translate “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”   Biennially the local library, in my city, awards a Sankofa Freedom Award. Past recipients have included: Michael E. Dyson, Nikki Giovanni, Pearl Cleage and Hill Harper.

Two years ago while living abroad I heard that Hill Harper was visiting my home town to accept an award. I hadn’t heard of Sankofa Freedom award at the time, but I knew I was disappointed to miss out on Hill Harper. Little did I know I would be able to interview the 2014 recipient of the award; Susan L. Taylor.

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Susan L. Taylor is the editor-in Chief emeritus of Essence Magazine. A magazine that I have subscribed to for years and am ever so grateful for. I was able to attend my first Essence Fest in the summer of 2010. I follow them on all my social media accounts. I’m a big fan. So when my good friend Justin, Editor-in-chief of, asked me to come along for the interview; I was more than thrilled. During the interview and award ceremony she dropped so much wisdom; I want to share a few of those nuggets with ya:

  • We should ask ourselves “What does the gift of life mean to me?”  Thinking of life as a gift on a daily basis will put a positive spin on just about everything we face. We would find lessons in everything, be more grateful and forgive easily.
  • Let go of the things that don’t serve you well: anger, unforgiveness, toxic relationships etc. I’ve found there is so much power in letting go.
  • You should intern before you decide on the career path you want to follow. Something I’m putting into practice now.
  • The things that happen in your life are for you enlightenment, not for your punishment.
  • Pain is inevitable; suffering is a choice.
  • Get up every morning and say thank you. Gratitude makes everything you have more than enough.
  • Love yourself and give the overflow, of that love, to the community.
  • Don’t take people’s craziness personally.

Her passion for her organization, National CARES Mentoring Movement, was evident. The organization recruits adults to mentor at-risk youth. There was definitely a call to action as she discussed practical ways to reach our youth.

2 thoughts on “Greatness right before me: Susan L. Taylor

  1. This was an awesome opportunity/experience. I too love Essence Magazine. I consider it the black women’s bible.🙂 Oh, btw the March issue is everything!

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