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Essence Launches Guns Down: A Provocative Three-Part Series Aimed at Curbing Gun Violence in Our Communities

Essence Seeks to Galvanize MIllions of African-American Women Across the Country with a Campaign to Show Support of President Obama’s Initiatives to Curb Gun Violence.

Apr 8, 2012

NEW YORK – ESSENCE, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, announces GUNS DOWN, its provocative three-part series aimed at making our communities safer. The first installment of the series, Loss & Hope, kicks off in the May issue (on newsstands now.) It features the families of two Black children cut down by guns: Ana Márquez-Greene, a 6 year-old killed in a hail of bullets during the Newtown, CT, tragedy; and Hadiya Zaymara Pendleton, a 15-year-old casualty of gang violence who was gunned down in her Chicago neighborhood a little more than a week after she had performed at the presidential inauguration.

Writer asha bandele shares a poignant tale of how the families of these young victims are searching for a deeper meaning behind their deaths. Nelba Márquez-Greene, mother of Ana, shares in her interview with ESSENCE: “I’m frustrated by the lack of meaningful action on gun violence. When people look back on this time, 100 years from now, will they be able to say we stood on the right side of history? Will they be able to say that we did all we needed to do to make our communities whole and safe? Everyone will hold all these lawmakers accountable if nothing is done…”

This series also kicks off ESSENCE’s campaign to galvanize millions of African-American women across the nation—from readers to influencers and celebrities—to join in the fight against gun violence. The May issue features, “Dear Mr. President,” a pre-written letter to President Barack Obama that readers can cut out and mail directly to the White House expressing support of the President’s initiatives to curb gun violence—including restrictions on assault weapons, strengthening mental health care for young people, funding research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and more. ESSENCE also asks readers to spread awareness via social media by sending a Tweet with a picture of their signed letters with the hashtag #EsssenceGunsDown to show their support.

“The gratuitous gun violence that has taken so many innocent lives, particularly in urban areas, must be addressed on a national level immediately. ESSENCE launched its GUNS DOWN series to garner closer attention to this critical issue—and to show Congress that our readers are united in their support of the President’s initiatives to curb gun violence. We can no longer sit idly by as this goes on. The cost is just too great,” said Michelle Ebanks, President ESSENCE Communications. “We are asking all of our readers to join us in our fight to create a brighter future for all of our children. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to go out to all of the families of victims of gun violence.”

“ESSENCE readers and African-American women everywhere are just simply tired of reading stories where yet another child is being buried as a result of senseless gun violence,” said Vanessa Bush, Acting Managing Editor, ESSENCE. “Our readers not only want to bring awareness to this horrifying trend; they want to see it end for good. ESSENCE hopes that our series and campaign will inspire changes in gun legislation and eventually lead to the end of this vicious cycle.”

For more on this month’s issue and the GUNS DOWN series, visit ESSENCE.com.

About Essence Communications Inc.

Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 42 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at


Dana Baxter 212.522.1634 dbaxter@essence.com
Sheila Harris, 212.522.1089 sharris@essence.com
Chloe Williams, 212.522.1777 cwilliams@essence.com

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