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Marcia Ann Gillespie
Former Editor-in-Chief of Ms. Magazine and Essence
Gender and Race Activist

Marcia Ann Gillespie is a trailblazer in the magazine industry, a leader in the women's movement, and an activist for gender and racial justice. A provocative writer and thinker, she has been a consistent voice in affirming the human potential for good, challenging inequality, and pushing herself and others to hope, dare and strive for a better world. She is the author of Maya Angelou: A Glorious Celebration, an authorized biography and is currently writing a memoir titled When Blacks Became Americans.  Named the Editor in Chief of Essence at the age of 26, Gillespie quickly proved her mettle by rapidly transforming the then fledgling publication into one of the fastest growing women's magazines in the United States. During her tenure (1971-1980), Essence became a trusted source of inspiration, information and affirmation for millions of African American women and won a National Magazine Award, the industry's most prestigious honor.  An award winning writer, Gillespie has also received a number of awards from professional and civic organizations, and was named "One of the Fifty Faces for America's Future" by Time magazine. Gillespie is also the current Professor of Diversity in Residence for the Johnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute at Bennett College.  

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