Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief for Essence magazine said last Tuesday at Savannah State University, no one gets to live life without pain. Pain is a natural part of life, but suffering is a choice.
“What brings you joy is accepting who you are, being grateful for the breath of life, and being happy with what God made. Life is a gift,” Taylor said.
Taylor spoke to a packed audience filled with students, faculty and staff as part of SSU’s first installment in their distinguished lectures series entitled “Bold, Visionary Leadership: From the Inside Out.”
The legendary author and editor presented a promotional video for her foundation National Cares Mentoring Movement, which she founded in 2006. The video featured celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Oprah, humanitarian Harry Belafonte, and others calling on the public to prevent poverty, the degrading of women, the demonization of black men and other issues within the black community.
Taylor had no formal training as a journalist when she began at Essence magazine, but soon became author of their most popular column, “In the Spirit.”
She recalled her days as a struggling mother making $350 per month as fashion and beauty editor for Essence magazine. She often worried about paying rent and putting food on the table for her daughter. Taylor soon ended up in the hospital with an anxiety attack. Upon her release she was drawn to a local church and heard a sermon that changed her life.
“ The preacher said ‘if you control your mind, you control the world.’ There are habits we have that are death causing, not everyone is healthy enough to have a front seat in your life,” Taylor said. “Life will bring you to the edge. Everything in your life is by divine order.”
Some of us have been physically, mentally, and emotionally abused, but we are here. We suffer because we have compassion and pain is life trying to awaken us.”
Taylor encouraged young journalists graduating college with little to no job prospects to polish their craft and learn to write across the board.
“Aspiring journalists have to understand the media landscape is changing face,” Taylor said. “ You have to polish your craft, master the language, know all the different platforms, study the marketplace and when you cover a beat, know your history.”
Taylor said that black media is the “drum” and when the black community does not support black media, their market is devalued.
“We have to awaken the black community. Black media does not get its fair share of dollars, but it gives us what we don’t get from the general media,” Taylor said.
Taylor asked the audience to look within themselves for happiness.
“ The Holy Spirit is alive as you. When you figure out what you would do if you did not have to get a paycheck, you will achieve peace. Inner peace is what we seek,” Taylor said.