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The Essence Empowerment Experience Stage, the core of the annual Essence Festival, will feature icons, newsmakers, national leaders, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, celebrities, journalists, educators, and experts to showcase the many dimensions of the African-American community including a central focus on information to improve women’s day-to-day lives. The schedule was a announced Monday, May 13.


This year’s 2013 Essence Empowerment Experience Stage highlights will include the return of Steve Harvey, who will host a live edition of his top-rated game show “Family Feud”; keynote conversations from Rev. Al Sharpton , Iyanla VanzantMarc Morialand Lisa Nichols ; an historic commemoration of the 50th anniversary of 1963—the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement—with Rep. John Lewis, Myrlie Evers-WilliamsRep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton and others.

There will be a standing-room only All-Star Gospel Tribute to Tramaine Hawkins andDonnie McClurkin with Yolanda Adams andBishop Noel Jones. The Empowerment Experience Stage is held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in the Great Hall from Thursday, July 4th through Sunday, July 7 from 11 a,m. to 5 p.m. Doors will open at 9:30 a,m, on Thursday, July 4.

Dr. Steve Perry, Niecy Nash, Issa Rae, Roland Martin, Tonya Lewis Lee, DeVon Franklin, Julianne Malveaux , Dr. Valerie Montgomery, Dr. Michael Lomax and Monique Greenwood are among the panelists who will discuss jobs and the economy, education, gun violence in our cities, the mortgage crisis, immigration, relationships, and images on reality television.

“Over the past four decades African-American women have made remarkable gains, enjoying high rates of socio-economic mobility and educational attainment. They are self-confident, optimistic, and joyful,” says Essence President Michelle Ebanks. “The Essence Empowerment Experience Stage programming strengthens our community bonds, and provides information that is critical to this continued success.”

Thursday, July 4: Family For Life

The Essence Empowerment Experience Stage will introduce it’s first-ever, free and open-to-the-public, “Family Reunion Day.” Hosted by Master P. and his children, Romeo and Cymphonique, the day will center around a renewed focus on family. Celebrities and acclaimed, nationally recognized speakers such as Roland Martin , Dr. Steve Perry , Dr. Denese Shervington , Tonya Lewis Lee and Traci and Trina Braxton will participate.

Friday, July 5, 2013: Healthy Mind, Spirit & Relationships

Hosted by ” Steve Harvey Morning Show ” personality and author Shirley Strawberry , festivalgoers will be able to attend seminars on healthy living in both mind and spirit. The morning will start with families competing on Steve Harvey ‘s always amusing “Family Feud.” In the afternoon, attendees will have the chance to hear firsthand from Kenya Moore , Shaunie O’Neal, Andrea Kelly , Chanté Moore and Monifah in “The Real Truth Behind Reality TV.” We will also get tips on how to be sexy at any age with our panel that includes Nicole Murphy , Victoria Rowell , Dr. Rachael Ross and Mayte Garcia . Attendees will also gain vital strategies on how to “Own Your Power” featuring Transformation Specialist Lisa Nichols . ESSENCE Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor will lead a timely discussion on “Putting Ourselves First,” and breakout “Young & The Restless” star Redaric Williams will be one of the men who will talk “Sex & Love: On His Mind.”

Saturday, July 6: Be Fearless In Your Community

Discussions on civil rights, education and women’s rights underscore the social and cultural significance of today’s seminars. With keynote speakers Iyanla Vanzant and Reverend Al Sharpton , Saturday, July 6, 2013 will be an unforgettable day of ideas, innovation and solutions to critical issues in the Black community. Many of the nation’s top mayors will discuss ending gun violence; Dr. Steve Perry will lead a discussion with real-life education activist mothers who will show mothers how to successfully navigate public and private school systems; top Black women entrepreneurs will share the secrets of their success in building their own brands and giving back; Rep. John Lewis will salute Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including eagerly anticipated remarks from Myrlie Evers-Williams on the 50th anniversary of 1963—the turning point year in The Movement; and we will conclude with the country’s top thinkers on a wide range of issues from the mortgage crisis to immigration in The Black Women’s Agenda 2013.

Sunday, July 7: The 5th Anniversary of Praise & Inspiration

Journalist and author Cheryl Wills returns as host for the standing room only “Get Lifted All-Star Gospel Tribute to Tramaine Hawkins and Donnie McClurkin ” with Yolanda Adams, Bishop Lester Love, Michelle Williams, Tasha Cobbs, Amber Bullock, Tyronne Foster and The Arc SingersKurt CarrIsaac CarreeKim BurrellBishop Noel Jones and many more.

Day-By-Day Schedule:

The day-by-day schedule of the Essence Empowerment Experience Stage is as follows:

Thursday, July 4: Family For Life

Hosts: Master P, Romeo, Cymphonique

“Why Our Children Should Come Home,” with Roland Martin

“Saving Our Sons,” with Dr. Steve Perry , Master P. and DeVon Franklin

“Feeding Our Children: Mind, Body & Soul,” with Tonya Lewis Lee , Dr. Denese Shervington and Carol Bebelle

“Q&A” featuring Traci and Trina Braxton

Friday, July 5, 2013: Healthy Mind, Spirir & Relationships

Host: Shirley Strawberry

“Family Feud,” hosted by Steve Harvey

“I Beat: Health, Journeys & Transformations,” with Denise Warren , Robin D. Stone , Entourage Members of Body by Denise and Dr. Aletha Maybank

“The Real Truth On Reality TV,” moderated by Michelle Williams with Kenya Moore , Shaunie O’Neal, Andrea Kelly and Chanté Moore

“Sexy At Any Age: Embrace You Inner Naughty Girls,” with Nicole Murphy , Shirley Strawberry , Dr. Rachael Ross , Victoria Rowell , Mayte Garcia and Kenya Moore

“Own Your Power,” featuring Lisa Nichols

“Putting Ourselves First,” moderated by Mikki Taylor with Niecy Nash , Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice , Dr. Denese Shervington , Lisa Nichols and Tonya Lewis Lee

“Sex & Love: On His Mind,” with Redaric Williams and Chef Roble

Saturday, July 6: Be Fearless In Your Community

Keynote: Reverend Al Sharpton

Keynote Address: Marc Morial

Keynote Address: Iyanla Vanzant

“Reinvent Your Life & Your Business,” Moderated by Tanisha Sykes with Monique Greenwood , Issa Rae , Michele Clark Jenkins and Stephanie Moore Perry

“Where Smart Starts,” with Dr. Steve Perry , Dr. Thelma Baxter and Dr. Michael Lomax

“Icons of the Civil Rights Movement,” with Congressman John Lewis , Shirley Sherrod , Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Myrlie Evers Williams

“Black Women’s Agenda 2013,” C. Nicole Mason , Karen Carter Peterson and Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Sunday, July 7: The 5th Anniversary of Praise & Inspiration

Host: Cheryl Wills

“Get Lifted All-Star Gospel Tribute” to Tramaine Hawkins and Donnie McClurkin

A full-day of praise, songs and worship, with Bishop Lester Love and the City of Love, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Williams, Amber Bullock, Tasha Cobbs, Bishop Noel Jones, Tyronne Foster and The Arc Singers, Kurt Carr, Isaac Carree, Kim Burrell and many more.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE FESTIVAL, visit ESSENCE Festival Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2013 ESSENCE Festival on Facebook.