Magazine article Ebony

5 Questions For: John H. Johnson: Founder, Publisher and Chairman of Ebony Magazine

Magazine article Ebony

5 Questions For: John H. Johnson: Founder, Publisher and Chairman of Ebony Magazine

Article excerpt

JOHN H. JOHNSON, WHO VIRTUALLY INVENTED THE BLACK CONSUMER MARKET, and who almost singlehandedly created the foundations of the Black magazines and Black media stars of today, founded EBONY magazine in November 1945. EBONY asked him 5 questions about the 1945 founding and the 59th anniversary.

1. You founded EBONY in November 1945, and it has been the biggest-selling Black magazine in the world for 59 straight years. If you could go back to November 1945 and start all over again, what would you do differently? I wouldn't do anything differently. You don't tamper with success.

2. You appointed your daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, president and CEO, and the company continues to grow.

How do you explain EBONY'S success? Why do you think it is still No. 1 in circulation?

EBONY is still No. 1 because we give our readers something they can't get anywhere else. We are still, after all these years, the only major magazine that covers the whole Black family--males, females, teenagers, ministers, entertainers, entrepreneurs, everybody. And we've changed with changing tunes and times. When I started out, we were Negroes, and most of our readers were jitterbuggers. Now we are African-Americans, and many of our readers are hip-hoppers. The secret of our success is that we've accurately reflected and, some say, shaped trends while emphasizing the enduring values of African-American history, African American culture and the truths of Frederick Douglass and Mary McLeod Bethune and Martin Luther King Jr.

3. A major figure in your life and career was your late mother, Mrs. Gertrude Johnson Williams. In fact, you started Johnson Publishing Company by borrowing $500 on your mother's furniture. What is the greatest thing you learned from your mother?

She taught me to believe in myself. She taught me to dream, to dare, and to never give up. …

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