By Ellen McGirt
July 1, 2016

This is a light and breezy dispatch, because I’m on my way to New Orleans for the Essence Festival. It’s my first time attending this annual phenomenon of music, culture, and real talk. For the thousands of mostly black women attendees, it has been a “don’t-miss” event for years.

I’ve been a by-stander to the extraordinary work the Essence team has done behind the scenes, and this Festival promises to outshine all previous years. Given where we are in the political and news cycles, I expect the conversations to be particularly rich.

Check out the speakers line up here. I’ll be doing my best to gather as much wisdom and intel for future dispatches. (Common, Ava DuVernay, Kendrick Lamar, Melissa Harris Perry – the whole world is coming to this thing.)

I’ll also be moderating a power panel on Saturday afternoon called, “Leading With Purpose,” a theme which has been shaping business conversations in 2016 like no other time in my career as a business journalist.

I’ll be speaking one-on-one with Bernard Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. We’ll then be joined by three extraordinary women: Kimberly Blackwell, the Chief Executive Officer of the PMM Agency; Pamela Carlton, the President, Springboard, and Deborah Elam, President, GE Foundation & Chief Diversity Officer GE.

Anything you’d like me to ask the panel, or any bold faced name you’d like me to try to track down for you? Drop me a note at: raceahead@newsletters.fortune.com

Follow the good stuff on Twitter at #essencefest, or check out my own feed @ellmcgirt.

Good holiday weekend to the Americans out there! RaceAhead returns on July 6.

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