Queen Latifah made her first public appearance since announcing the death of her late mother Rita Owens in March at the 2018 Essence Fest in New Orleans on Friday (July 6).

The veteran-rapper actor was the guest speaker at “My Black Is Beautiful” dinner where she told attendees about her mother, who died after a decade-long struggle with heart failure.

When it comes to helping others, Latifah told the crowd that it was her late mother, an Irvington, N.J., high school teacher, that inspired her to give back.

“While teaching and raising my brother and I, she was being a mom to all of these other students," he said (via People). "If you got pregnant you came to my momma. If you were worried about boys you came to my mom. If you wanted to know about a girl, was she good for you or not, you came to my mom. If you want to talk about the things you dream, you came to my mother."

“If you were getting abused at home and you couldn’t tell anybody you came to my mother. She was that type of teacher," she continued.

"I watched her give back all my life. So giving back is not even an option. It’s a requirement,” she added. “She would always say that thing 'to those much is given much is required.' But that’s not so much a burden that is a gift."

Queen Latifah is turning her inspiring words into action. The 48-year-old rap mogul has partnered with Essence Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis, to announce the Essence Fund, which will invest $20 million in capital in Black creatives and thinkers. The fund’s first partner will be Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment.

“One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas,” she said. “So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you aren’t even going to imagine.”

Salute to Queen Latifah for her continuous efforts of giving back to her community.

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