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2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Kicks Off at the Global Black Economic Forum

June 29, 2023 — Day One of the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ presented by Coca-Cola® kicked off in its forever home of New Orleans. Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans and ESSENCE Ventures President & CEO Caroline Wanga and the executive leadership team, kicked off this year’s festival with the annual press conference, starting the weekend celebrations with opening remarks highlighting the yearly economic impact of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ on the local New Orleans community. 

Celebrations continued throughout the day with the Global Black Economic Forum™, which featured an invite-only Access and Opportunity Summit at the Four Seasons, where members of The Biden-Harris Administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Michael S. Regan, took part in discussions on issues ranging from the evolution of philanthropy to addressing inequity on corporate boards. 

The Summit engaged audiences on conversations around advancing equity and opportunity for Black communities across the country with history-making Black trailblazers, including  Hip-Hop icons and gamechangers Doug E. Fresh and D-Nice, CNBC Reporter and Anchor Deborah Helman and Ebony Thomas, respectively, Vice President of Partnerships & Engagement at Google Valeisha Butterfied Jones, and more.

Following the Summit, the 2023 Essence Ventures Media Upfront took place at The Fillmore inclusive of a State of Black Media panel discussion featuring Caroline Wanga, Essence Ventures CEO & President, Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt, and Travis Montaque, Group Black Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, as well as a special musical performance by Robin Thicke.

During the nighttime experiences, AFROPUNK made its debut at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ with the AFROPUNK Krewe Ball, taking the night by storm at the Joy Theater. Notable attendees included a performance by Durand Bernarr and DJ sets by LIL JODECI, DJ Chinua, DJ PR_CK, DJ B-HEN, and hosted by Ebony New Orleans. 


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