Susan Taylor Learned From Coretta Scott King That Who She Is Is Enough

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is magazine legend Susan Taylor.

Susan L. Taylor

Founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement

Editor-in-Chief Emerita, Essence Magazine

My first job was in my father, Lawrence Taylor’s, women’s clothing store in Harlem.

My big break came when, in 1970, my company, Nequai Cosmetics—one of the first cosmetics companies of custom-blended foundations for black women—came to the attention of Essence editors, and Ida Lewis, then editor-in-chief, hired me as the magazine’s beauty editor.

I’ve had to work hardest at balancing the many competing pressures—parenting, institution building, self-care. I love to work and moving at a pace of grace, making self-care and stress management my first priorities, continues to be what I work hardest at doing.

I never imagined I would lead Essence or a nonprofit institution

I wish I’d learned sooner that who I am and the gifts I’ve been given are enough and there is never a need to feel insecure in any area of my life. It’s a truth still unfolding in me. Coretta Scott King shared this with me during an interview when I was attending Union Theological Seminary: Anything that is known is knowable!

The risk I regret not taking is attending law school along the journey of my soul-nourishing career.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent at the ocean, jumping the waves and listening to them rushing to shore, reading and having healthy, delicious food at hand.

The toxic political environment and chilling climate of racism it has precipitated keep me up at night. It has given permission to once-reliable supporters of black children and our community to retreat. And this, in the midst of a black child suicide crisis. Our children, as young as 5, are killing themselves.

When I’m struggling, I say to myself, what have you come to teach me?

I am unapologetically a believer in the goodness of humanity, and a lover of our people.

Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.