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Clarence O. Smith (cofounder of Essence Magazine). Essence is an American fashion, lifestyle and entertainment magazine. It was the first monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. Founded in 1969 by Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth and Jonathan Blount, Essence began publishing in May 1970. Its circulation began at around 50,000 copies per month, and has grown to around 1.1 million.

In 2000, Time Inc. purchased 49 percent of the magazine from its original publisher, Essence Communications Inc. By March 2005, Time Inc. became the majority owner, buying the remaining 51 percent in a deal reported to be worth US$170 million. Photographer, Filmmaker, Author Gordon Parks served as its editorial director during the first three years of its circulation.

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