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The Man from Essence

The Man from Essence

Creating a Magazine for Black Women

Foreword by: Camille Cosby / With: Audrey Edwards
Essence magazine is the most popular, well respected, and largest circulated black women’s magazine in history. Largely unknown is the remarkable story of what it took to earn that distinction.

The Man from Essence depicts with candor and insight how Edward Lewis, CEO and publisher of Essence, started a magazine with three black men who would transform the lives of millions of black American women and alter the American marketplace. Throughout Essence’s colorful and storied history, Ed Lewis remained the cool and constant presence, a quiet-talking corporate captain and business strategist who prevailed against the odds and the naysayers. He would emerge to become the last man standing—the only partner to survive the battles that raged before the magazine was sold to Time, Inc. in the largest buyout of a black-owned publication by the world’s largest publishing company.

By the time Lewis did the deal with Time, a little magazine that limped from the starting gate in 1970 with a national circulation of 50,000 had grown into a powerhouse with a circulation of more than a million and a pass along readership of eight million.

The story of Essence is ultimately the story of American business, black style. From constant battles with a racist advertising community to hostile takeover attempts, warring partners packing heat, mass firings, and mass defections—all of which revealed inherent challenges in running a black business—the saga is as riveting as any thriller steeped in high drama, hijinks, and juicy dishing.

In this engaging business memoir, Ed Lewis tells the inspiring story of how his own rise from humble South Bronx beginnings to media titan was shaped by the black women and men in his life. This in turn helped shape a magazine that has changed the face of American media.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476703480 | 
  • June 2014
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Read an Excerpt

The Man from Essence CHAPTER 1 The “Godfather” Calls a Sit-Down
1968. It was a very bad year, perhaps the worst of times in a nation rocked by political assassinations, urban riots, underground revolutionaries, and defiant protestors. Visionary leaders were violently killed: Martin Luther King, Jr., gunned down on a Memphis hotel balcony in April; Robert F. Kennedy shot in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen in June; black riots erupting in dozens of American cities following the killings. The Democratic National... see more

About the Author

Edward Lewis

Edward Lewis, propelled by the extraordinary success of Essence magazine, has become one of the most successful and respected magazine publishers in the country. In 1969, he cofounded Essence and later founded Latina magazine. Mr. Lewis was honored with the Henry Johnson Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award, the Time, Inc. Henry Luce Award, and was a 2014 inductee into the Advertising Hall of Fame by the American Advertising Federation. He is the former chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America and currently serves as Senior Advisor for Solera Capital, a New York–based private equity firm.

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