by Susan L Taylor Print book
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A Harvest of Empowering Inspiration from Susan L. Taylor   (2008-10-16)
When the NAACP in 2006 presented author and social activist Susan L. Taylor with its President’s Award, the organization publicly acknowledged what readers of Essence® Magazine had been experiencing for nearly four decades. Namely, that Ms. Taylor is among the most effective, dynamic, and beloved human resources on the planet. In All About Love (Urban Books) a rich of harvest of writings from Taylor’s “In the Spirit” column, it’s easy to see why.
A collection of more than 80 empowering editorials and three bonus dialogues, All About Love is all about life as we know, live, dread, treasure, and live it. Unlike too many book collections of short essays or creative nonfiction, this is not one aimed at demonstrating the intellectual profundity or virtuosity of the author. These are the observations, emotions, realizations and affirmations by which generations of women––and sometimes men––have mapped out the course of their daily lives and established purpose for their existence. They address such down-to-earth considerations as “Family Affairs” and “Living Abundantly,” but also tackle more elevated yet essential meditations on subjects like “Being Peace,” and “Self-love and Social Action.”
Ever a fearless witness to her life and times, Taylor notes in the introduction, “A Bridge of Light,” that, “Human beings have made every corner of the planet a disaster zone, and human beings have the power and responsibility to clear and clean it up, set the Earth back on its axis. We are not small or powerless. We have the ability to transform our world. Our personal and collective pain, the disorder all around us, are calls to get up and get moving!!!”
Especially noteworthy in All About Love are the three “conversations” that comprise its closing epilogue. One is Taylor in dialogue with Oscar-nominated actress Ruby Dee; another with educator and activist Cornel West; and the third with the late master musician and spiritual instructor Alice Coltrane. Each subject combines the articulated light of her or his illuminated spirit with that of Taylor’s to produce flashes of useful insight that expand into waves of applicable principles and awareness. Take, for example, Cornel West’s response to Taylor when she asks him about the need for men to become more emotionally honest, intimate, and self-loving: “Most would rather languish in conformity, complacency and even cowardice. But what is life for but to learn to love and be free and courageous?”
At the end of February 2008, Taylor left her almost four-decade position as the creative passion behind Essence® Magazine to head the National Cares Mentoring Movement, an organization she founded as Essence Cares to help at-risk youth. As she journeyed from 1970 to 2008 toward that noble crossroad of change in her illustrious career, she became in 1999 the first African-American woman to receive the Magazine Publishers of America’s Henry Johnson Fisher Award. In 2002, she won induction into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame. In many ways, All About Love is another kind of award, an eloquent summation of a triumphant career in one of the most demanding professions around. In another possibly more significant way, it is an open letter of uninhibited love and intentional compassion addressed to the denizens of the world from the heart and soul of one of the great women of our new millennial times.
by Author-Poet Aberjhani
author of The Bridge of Silver Wings
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
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