Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Creating a Legacy of Pride

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Creating a Legacy of Pride

Article excerpt

Before the recent trend in academia to include American minorities' stories, history textbooks focused mostly on dead white men. Now the American Heritage division of New York City-based Forbes Inc. and RJR Communications Inc., in Cleveland, are betting that there's an audience hungry for knowledge long ignored. The companies jointly launched the quarterly American Legacy in February to celebrate contributions of African-American men and women to society.

"From our initial research, we found there's an enormous appetite for African-American history," says RJR president Rodney Reynolds, who has produced a number of regional and lifestyle titles that target blacks. "People want to know about their heritage. Our objective is to educate and inspire people about African-Americans in this country."

The debut issue's cover feature, "The Mason Comes Home," which details the saga of the first naval vessel crewed almost entirely by blacks, exemplifies the kinds of stories the magazine will seek out: eye-opening editorial fare not known to the general public. "I'd like to think we're surprising people," says editor Carla Davidson.

The book will also focus on art and culture, as in the spring issue's "Family Fabrics," about the African-American quilt-making tradition. Regular features include the "Pathfinders" section, a brief biography of a notable African-American, and "Anthology," a book excerpt.

Reynolds presented the concept for American Legacy to Forbes in 1994, touting the synergy between his now-defunct regional black-history title Renaissance and Forbes' American Heritage. Both magazines, he contended, have a common mission: to look at ideas, issues and events of the past and how they relate to the present. Forbes agreed to bankroll the project and house its editorial staff of three in its New York office. …

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