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Historical Reflections: John H. Johnson
By Courtney Williams

When one reflects on publishing giants in the twentieth century they should most certainly think about John H. Johnson Publishing.   By securing a loan against his mother's furniture John H. Johnson, a young man from Arkansas was enabled to launch his first publication.    Since its establishment Johnson publications has embraced the African American community, and in duality they empower each other.  

His respective publications are Ebony and Jet magazines. Ebony was stared in 1945 succeeding the Negro Digest.   Subsequently Jet magazine was started in 1951, and it was designed to be a pocketsize publication for convenience. In this industry publishers are striving to replicate the ethics, philanthropy, and commitment of the company.    Johnson met the public's needs by advertising African American businesses, products, and highlighting achievement.   This proved to be an effective measure along with facts on issues pertinent to the community.   

During the period Johnson began his endeavor, the social climate of the United States was overtly unjust; therefore he is considered a "Champion" and the "The Beginner." Ebony magazine has a monthly circulation that exceeds one million, and Jet magazine covers more news than any other weekly publication that services that services the black community. Johnson lived 87 years (1918- 2005) on this planet and they were for the betterment of all people through the opportunity the success of his publications made. He lived for expression and made change for the better!


Courtney Williams can be reached for comments, questions or concerns at



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