Who founded the Johnson Publishing Company and How did the company originate?

When John H. Johnson (1918-2005) was in college in Chicago, he realized that there was no one publication with articles and information of interest to African Americans.

He wondered if blacks would subscribe to such a magazine if he published it. Unable to get a bank loan, he borrowed $500 by using his mother’s furniture as collateral.

He sent a survey to 20,000 black insurance customers asking if they would subscribe to a magazine titled Negro Digest: A Magazine of Negro Comment. By October 1942, 3,000 people had sent in $2 subscriptions, and Johnson went ahead with his idea.

who founded the johnson publishing company and how did the company originate

The first issue was published in November 1942.

In 1945 Johnson began publishing a second magazine, Ebony, which used photos and original reporting to present black life and black achievements. Six years later, let, a weekly news magazine, was launched. EM, for Ebony Man, followed in 1985.

Many of the African Americans profiled in Johnson’s magazines were part of a growing black middle class. Ebony, let, and EM are still being published today.

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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.