Susan L. Taylor

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Susan L. Taylor in 2009

Susan L. Taylor (born January 23, 1946) is an American editor, writer, and journalist. She served as editor-in-chief of Essence from 1981 through 2000.[1] In 1994, American Libraries referred to Taylor as "the most influential black woman in journalism today".

Early life[edit]

Taylor was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City to a Trinidadian mother and a father from St. Kitts.[2] She grew up in East Harlem, where her father owned a clothing store. She went to a Catholic school. As a teenager, she moved with her family to the New York borough of Queens.[3]


Taylor started her career at Essence, a magazine for African-American women, in 1970, the year the magazine was founded. Her first position at the magazine was freelance fashion and beauty editor.[1] At the time, she was a divorced single mother without a college degree.[4]

By 1981, Taylor had risen to become editor-in-chief, a position she held until 2000.[1] During the 1980s, she attended night school and earned a B.A. from Fordham University.[4]

In addition to her editing responsibilities, Taylor had success building the Essence brand. She was executive producer and host of Essence, the Television Program, a syndicated interview program broadcast on more than 50 stations for four years during the 1980s. In the 1990s, she began Essence Books.[4]

Taylor's monthly inspirational column, "In the Spirit", became a popular feature of the magazine. She published three volumes of selected columns.

In 2000, Taylor was promoted to publications director. She left the magazine in 2008.[1]


In 1987, Taylor received the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications.[5][6]

The Magazine Publishers of America gave Taylor its Henry Johnson Fisher Award, considered one of the industry's highest honors, in 1998. She was the first African-American woman to receive the award.[1][7]

In 2002, Taylor was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame for her work at Essence.[8][9]

In 2003, Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP), formerly Women in Periodical Publishing, presented Taylor its fifth annual Exceptional Woman in Publishing award.[10]

The NAACP gave Taylor its President's Award in 2006.[11]

Taylor is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority; she was inducted on July 13, 2013.[12]

Published works[edit]

  • In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor, 1993.
  • Lessons in Living, 1995.
  • Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives, 1997. Co-authored with Khephra Burns.
  • All About Love: Favorite Selections from "In the Spirit" on Living Fearlessly, 2008.


  1. ^ a b c d e Arango, Tim (December 28, 2007). "Essence Editor Is Leaving Magazine". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ Taylor, Susan L. (April 1992). "Journeying into the Light". Essence. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Susan L. (April 19, 2010). "Susan L. Taylor Talks Back to The Root". The Root. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c McHenry, Susan (November–December 2004). "Black Publishing's Inspirational Godmother". Black Issues Book Review. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (February 17, 1987). "Women's Group Names Matrix Award Winners". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Matrix Awards Hall of Fame". New York Women in Communications. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Henry Johnson Fisher Award Recipients". Magazine Publishers of America. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  8. ^ Carr, David (May 2, 2002). "Magazine Award Winners, if Not Profit Champions". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame". American Society of Magazine Editors. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  10. ^ Fifth annual Exceptional Woman in Publishing award
  11. ^ "The 37th NAACP Image Awards Winners". NAACP. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Actress Angela Bassett & Susan L Taylor Become Members of Delta Sigma Theta" (photos), The Jasmine Brand.

External links[edit]