JPC and the Black World: Company's Magazines Championed Freedom of Blacks at Home and Abroad
Fifty years ago, at the outset of Johnson Publishing Co., the only independent Black nations in Africa were Ethiopia and Liberia. The rest of the continent was teeming with millions struggling against their colonial masters and yearning to be free. The fledgling companys magazines wasted no time in joining that freedom struggle by chipping away at the stereotypical view of Africans and West Indians whom a racist White press had relegated to "Third World" status and characterized as childlike, primitive and incapable of self-rule. Today, with political freedom a reality in most of Africa and the Caribbean, many indigenous leaders credit JPC with consistently portraying them and their countries in a dignified and realistic light. In doing so, they say, EBONY and Jet have not only redefined Black America, but Blacks in other parts of the world as well.
JPC editors recognized early that the same yearning for freedom that triggered the Civil Rights Movement in the United States also unleased the Independence Movement that swept Africa and the Caribbean, and that each movement fueled the other. Consequently, no effort or expense was spared to report the progress of independence abroad, and to counter the stereotypical images of Blacks in the Diaspora with countless, meaningful articles about Africa, the cradle of all mankind, and its rich cultural heritage.
Thus EBONY and Jet readers were able to learn and be inspired by stories about Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who defied the armies of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini; Africas Golden Age, featuring the ancient empires of Mali, Ghana and Songhay; independence sweeping Africa in the '60s, induding Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Kenya, and most of the Caribbean nations. EBONY and Jet, in fact, reported every African independence celebration. …