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Publisher's Summary

 My family. My Newark.

The story of three generations of Black women, one extraordinary friendship, and a not-often recalled history of the city that made them.

In Force of Beauty, Mikki Taylor, editor-at-large of Essence magazine and longtime activist, introduces us to her gifted grandmother, Bessie, her glamorous mother, Modina, and how Modina’s friendship with the legendary Sarah Vaughan shaped Mikki’s childhood. Taylor’s mini-memoir is a tribute to Newark in the '50s and '60s, of cool jazz clubs and close-knit neighborhoods, a handsome house on Avon Avenue, and one family’s tale of perseverance and ingenuity in a city they all loved.

At a time when Black women were marginalized, disrespected, overlooked, and unseen, Bessie and Modina showed Mikki how beauty and style can be a force for good.

The recording includes an introduction by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and a reading by Mayor Baraka of the poem his father, the esteemed Amiri Baraka, wrote about the Newark rebellion, which Taylor discusses living through as a young girl.

©2021 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2021 Audible Originals, LLC.

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About the Co-creator and Performer

Mikki Taylor is the leading authority on inner and outer beauty for women of color. A compelling empowerment speaker, Taylor emboldens women to own their lives, celebrate their beauty, and master their purpose with distinction. She has authored several books including the critically acclaimed Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty, Commander-in-Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady, and Editor in Chic: How to Style and Be Your Most Empowered Self.
As the former beauty & cover director at ESSENCE magazine, Taylor produced over 500 covers as well as its signature beauty pages to affirm and inspire the culture’s definition of beauty. Today she serves as the publication’s editor-at-large, hosting its live events such as the ESSENCE Festival’s Power Stage and Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey. Taylor has worked with some of the world’s most fascinating and influential people including Rosa Parks, Sidney Poitier, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and more. Among Taylor's most treasured experiences was the joy of serving as an instructor at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa at the special invitation of Oprah Winfrey, receiving the 2016 Black Women in Film Network Creative Award, speaking at the 2018 De Beers Global Women’s Summit in Botswana on consumer engagement, and receiving the National Urban League Trailblazer Award in July 2019.

About the Co-creator

Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning filmmaker and storyteller. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Draper brings a unique perspective to her work forged from her academic studies at Florida State University, her breakthrough ad campaigns as an executive with BBDO and Ogilvy, and her experience as a curious filmmaker who loves research. Draper is a 2016 Film Independent Lab Fellow and Variety Magazine’s 2016 Top 10 Documakers to Watch. Her documentary, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, tells the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Hitler and Jim Crow to compete in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games. Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is a 2017 NAACP Image Awards Nominee for Outstanding Documentary Film and one of only three nominees for the 2017 Peace and Sport Award in Monaco, presented by HRH Prince Albert. Draper was also nominated for the 2021 NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literary Work for her debut as an author, the book Olympic Pride, American Prejudice. Draper’s first partnership with Mikki Taylor, the film Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution, opened New York Fashion Week and Toronto Fashion Week in 2012.

Force of Beauty: A Newark Family Memoir trailer

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Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks for Moms


Moms are some of the hardest working, most resourceful, and most amazing people on this planet. The audiobooks on this list show appreciation to all the moms of this world, from new moms to single moms, from moms with adult children to moms who have lost their children. Some of these books are fictional. Some are about self-improvement. Some are personal memoirs. If you're a mom or if you know a mom who needs a listen to boost her spirits, offer reassurance, or simply speak to her, you're sure to find the right one here.

What listeners say about Force of Beauty

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Cadence of narrator's voice is odd

I was really looking forward to this book because I love biographies. I was especially looking forward to the multigenerational stories. I turned off the book after the first couple of chapters, though, because the narration was so distracting. The cadence of the narrator's style was not for me. It's a strange combination of too chirpy and choppy. I think the story is important, so I'll be looking for a paper copy to read instead, I guess.

13 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary history of Newark,NJ

Very interesting and enlightening. I always thought Susan Taylor was related to Mikka Taylor.
Essence has been my magazine since 1972. It’s a great listen

8 people found this helpful

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I Had No Idea abt the Richness of Newark

I was born in 1962 raised in the West Oak Lane & Mt. Airy area of Phila . Living that far north of Phila. Is almost not living in Philly. My mother grew up in South Philly and the stories always held my interest. However, the stories, exposure, experiences, and community, left me feeling almost sad that I was a part of the wonderful opportunities that were taken advantage of and not left on the table. Until now... Newark was just another black community with many people having no where out. I understand in many situations, for whatever the reason.... that was the case and that could have been the case for your family. However, it was almost like failure... was not an option. Yes, the struggles are different today in many ways, but they are also alike in many ways.
SOMEONES OPINION OF ME OR MY DAUGHTER... is NOT our Reality! IT’S NOT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF MY DAUGHTER AND I... IT’S WHAT WE... think of ourselves!!
THANK YOU :)

7 people found this helpful

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Inspirational Daughter of Newark Story

Thank you for your comments on my Grandmother and her restaurant Steward's on Avon Ave., you brought a smile to my face throughout but specifically with your 'shout out' for her!

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent story!

I throughly enjoyed listening to the story of Mikki Taylor. As a native New Jerseyan, It was great to hear about your childhood memories with your family and how you skillfully braided in Black History. Loved the mentions of so many Newark landmarks like Stewar’s, Avon Ave, Bambergers, Weequahic High School and so many more!

6 people found this helpful

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Reader takes away from the story

I am not sure why the reader chose to read in this style, but it was hard to listen to.

3 people found this helpful

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Black Girl Magic in Newark

This a magnificent love letter to Newark and a story of an exceptional Black family. Extraordinary Essence beauty editor Mikki Taylor shares the story of her childhood which created in her the passion and skill to curate and reflect the beauty of Black women.

3 people found this helpful

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A Lovely Memoir

I thought this book was a good Audiable that help you visualize back in the time place the book was about.

3 people found this helpful

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informative but Narrator's voice somewhat annoying

I loved learning about events and people from East Orange and Newark which is where I grew up! the writer/ narrator used the excited voice of a child during the entire story which was a little aggravating.

3 people found this helpful

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Reader’s voice difficult to listen to

I’m sure that this was s great story, but listening to the reader’s voice was unbearable, I couldn’t finish.

3 people found this helpful