JPC Babies: Born in 1942, Leaders and Celebrities Grew Up with JPC Magazines

Ebony, November 1992 | Go to article overview

JPC Babies: Born in 1942, Leaders and Celebrities Grew Up with JPC Magazines


History. Johnson Publishing Co., founded half a century ago this month, didn't just make it. It recorded it. Rectified it. Reworte it. And most important, remembered and revealed it to three generations of Black folks who, until the JPC publications, never saw their contributions to this nation and the world recounted in the majority media.

Nothing indicates this better than the testimony of JPC babies, who were born in the year the company was founded.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Three-time Heavyweight Champion

I hate to admit this, because it attests to my age, but I grew up with EBONY and Jet. I believe EBONY started in 1945 and I was born in 1942. The first time I remember seeing EBONY, I was still a child about seven or eight years old. I remember looking at the pictures of all the Black faces and trying to read the captions. I was very proud of the magazine because it was about Black people who were doing positive things with their lives, and it was nice to know that, because I would have never learned it in the White media. It was also a source of important conversation for my mother and her friends. They used to talk about each newissue that came out until you knew everything that was in it, even if you didn't read it. I remember thinking that one day I was going to be important, too, and they would put me in that magazine. Little did I know I would have the honor of gracing the cover, not once, but many times. Perhaps Mr. Johnson did not know it, but he gave Black people something tangible they could put their hands on that chronicled the Black man's achievement. He sort of gave "Iegality" to their accomplishments by putting it in black and white and in living color for the whole world to see. The people you saw in his publications were never included in our daily American history lesson; nor were they ever acknowledged by the newspapers or radio journalists. Johnson Publications meant a lot to young Black children who were looking for some reason to be proud of being Black.

We always tend to take things for granted when we have them, but I hope whoever reads this months issue will take a minute to reflect where would we be without publications like this one. Johnson Publications are very much an important part of our history, our current lives and our future.

CAROLE SIMPSON

Senior Correspondent, ABC News

The first time I saw EBONY magazine, I was just alittle girl. I still remember it vividly. I was visiting my aunts house. She was always the first person in the family to have everything-- a car, a television and a subscription to EBONY. I remember seeing this huge, beautiful, slick magazine and being absolutely mesmerized because it was filled with Black people. I had never seen that before. I-had seen Look, Life and other magazines, but they didn't feature anyone who looked like me. Even though I was just a little girl, and wasn't yet reading very well, I just thought that EBONY was so wonderful, so incredible, because I knew the Black people I saw on its pages were doing special things. You have to understand how signfficant that was because I grew up during a time when I didn't have any Black role medeIs on television or in newspapers. From the first time I saw EBONY, I remember looking forward to visiting my aunt and hoping that a new issue of this incredible magazine was there.

RICHARD BOUNDTREE

Actor and Former Ebony Fashion Fair Model

When I was growing up, Jet was the one magazine where Black people knew we could read about ourselves even if we couldn't do that anywhere else. EBONY and Jet were our magazines, our connection to Blacks around the country and the world. When I began modeling with the companys fashion show, that was really the beginning of my career. I remember being asked if I knew anything about runways and I said, "Of course I do." I knew zero about runway modeling. I remember my first show like it was yesterday. …

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