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.
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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.