Tuesday, August 09, 2005
John Johnson 1918-2005
John Johnson, legendary pioneer African-American publisher has passed away at the age of 87. Mr. Johnson fulfilled an urgent need for blacks to read positive stories and see positive images of themselves during the years prior to the end of the second world war. Mr. Johnson turned a $500 investment into 1.9 milion yearly income grossing enterprise called Ebony magazine. Before Ebony most white owned newspapers and magazines portrayed blacks as either charlatans of comic relief or dangerous violent individuals. Mr. Johnson was able to convince the corporate world at the time that money could be made advertising their products in black media. One of the first businesses to get on board was Zenith televison. Today Ebony and Jet magazines benefit from a world wide profitable distribution, but that was not always the case. In the initial stages of his endeavor Mr. Johnson experienced condemnation and even ridicule for even attempting such a project. Even such well meaning friends like civil rights leader Roy Wilkens did their best to discourage the Arkansas native from starting a black focused magazine. Or course, Wilkens later confided to Johnson that he was wrong. John Johnson has earned a bright spot in American history and his name will be remembered and passed on to future generations who will acknowledge and praise his ground breaking achievement in magazine publishing.