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BREAKING: Ebony Magazine owners forced into bankruptcy

This Week in Black History: Ebony Magazine

On Friday, a creditor based in Houston announced it had filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against Ebony Media Holdings, the company behind one of the longest-running Black publications in America.

Parkview Capital Credit announced that the filing, which was also backed by two other creditors, was an attempt to reposition the company’s iconic assets, including the Ebony and Jet brands, in the long-term future, according to a news release. The petition is pending, but the creditors intend to allow the company to continue with its journalistic efforts even under bankruptcy court authorization.

»RELATED: Johnson, former Ebony and Jet publisher, files for bankruptcy

“EBONY has been the voice of the Black community for 75 years and we look forward to positioning the company’s assets to serve the Black community for another 75 years,” said Brad Southern, president and chief investment officer for Parkview Capital Credit.

The flagship publication Ebony, once reaching a circulation of more than 1.3 million, was considered one of the premier, influential voices in Black media.

Jet magazine cover 1953
Jet magazine cover 1953

The Johnson Publishing Company launched the magazine in 1945, embarking on a publishing empire that would make the Johnson family one of the most revered Black businesses in history. Along the way, the publications chronicled some of the most memorable moments in the civil rights movement, the spectrum of experiences indicative of the African American life and numerous aspects of celebrity and international news affecting Black people. The publication also garnered awards and critical acclaim through the decades. Moneta Sleet Jr., a longtime staff photographer, won a Pulitzer Prize for a photo of Coretta Scott King at her husband’s funeral.

In 2016, Johnson Publishing sold Ebony and Jet. The magazine was last published in print in 2019.

Johnson Publishing also owned the Fashion Fair hair-care and cosmetics businesses for women of color before the company filed for bankruptcy last year and sold the Ebony and Jet archives to a consortium of foundations for $30 million. Industry insiders point to the death of the company’s founder, John H. Johnson, in 2015 as the pivotal point of descent for the company.

»MORE: Filmmaker George Lucas and his wife want control of the Ebony, Jet archives

Jacob Walthour, Ebony Media’s recently appointed chairman, said the bankruptcy’s intention wasn’t to liquidate the business.

“The goal is to get control of the company, not to break it up and sell it off in pieces,” Walthour told The Wall Street Journal. “We are petitioning to have the digital operation continue while we clean up the balance sheet.”

Parkview Capital Credit is an investment fund managed by Blueprint Capital Advisors LLC, a Black-owned asset manager based in Newark, New Jersey.