Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Edward Lewis-Founder of Essence Magazine
Publisher and entrepreneur Edward Lewis was born on May 15, 1940, in the Bronx, New York. He grew up impoverished in the projects of the South Bronx, a neighborhood plagued at the time by drug addiction and violence. Nevertheless, Lewis's parents—his father a night shift janitor at City College and his mother a factory worker—instilled in him a strong work ethic and desire to succeed. Lewis attended De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he excelled academically and was a star fullback on the football team. Upon graduating from high school in 1958, he earned a football scholarship to the University of New Mexico. Edward Lewis discovered that he was one of exactly 12 black students on a campus of more than 8,000. Lewis studied the teachings of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and grew outspoken in his demands for racial equality. This expression of what the university perceived as Lewis' "radicalism" resulted in the loss of his football scholarship during his sophomore year. Edward Lewis graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations in 1964. Lewis, along with another young black businessman from the Bronx, Clarence O. Smith, founded Essence magazine, a magazine specifically targeted to black women. "We just had this desire to bring something into the world that black women could feel good about—to give hope, to provide jobs, to provide a voice for black women ... to begin to see their voices, to begin to see themselves in the pages of a magazine that they could call their own." The first issue of Essence was published in May 1970 with a modest print run of 50,000 copies. Since then, Essence has grown into what the New York Times called the "pre-eminent voice for black women," with a readership of more than 7.5 million. Propelled by the extraordinary success of Essence, Lewis has become one of the most successful and respected magazine publishers in the country. Over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, he expanded Essence Communications to include a weekly television show, fashion line and mail order catalogue, as well as an annual awards show and music festival. In addition to Essence, Lewis co-founded Latina magazine in 1995. He is now a senior advisor for Solera Capital, a New York-based private equity firm. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to Essence, Lewis co-founded Latina magazine in 1995. He is now a senior advisor for Solera Capital, a New York-based private equity firm. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2014. Essence Magazine Founder Says he Doesn’t Regret Selling to Time Inc.