John H. Johnson

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by cherryblossom, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    1918 - 2005

    John H. Johnson -- born January 19, 1918 in rural Arkansas City, Arkansas -- was the grandson of slaves His father Leroy Johnson was killed in a sawmill accident when "young Johnny" was eight years of age. His mother Gertrude Jenkins Johnson further impoverished did not give hope and her faith they could have more than what Arkansas offered. She saved her meager earnings as a cook and washerwoman for years until she could afford to move her family to Chicago.

    There, Johnson was exposed to something he never knew existed: middle class blacks. He attended an all black high school during the day and poured over self-improvement books at night. His classmates at DuSable High were Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx and future entrepreneur William Abernathy.....

    1933 -- Moves with his mother to Chicago, part of African-America's Great Migration and enrolled in DuSable High School

    1936 -- on graduation invited to speak at a dinner held by the Urban League.

    President of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, Harry Pace was so impressed with Johnson's speech that he offered him a job and a scholarship to attend college part-time. Late 30s dropped his studies at the University of Chicago

    1939 -- 21 years old and becomes editor of Pace's in-house magazine. Collecting articles culled from national publications, Johnson realizes he's struck gold.

    1941 -- married Eunice Walker and assumed a full-time position at Supreme Liberty Life.
    1942 (November) -- borrowed $500 against his mother's furniture and started Johnson Publishing Company. Got idea for Negro Digest, the forerunner of Ebony, while selecting articles for Pace to keep abreast of current events of interest to blacks.

    1942 -- launched the Negro Digest, which took a serious look at racial issues and featured articles from prominent black and white writers. Office of Johnson Publishing Co. on the second floor of Chicago's Supreme Life Insurance Co. building in a room in the private law office of Earl B. Dickerson.

    1942 (June) -- circulated 50,000 of Negro Digest, modeled on Reader's Digest but aimed at African-Americans.

    1943 (October) -- readership soared of Negro Digest to 100,000 when one of his regular contributor columns, "If I was a Negro" was penned by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. With no competition cash was raked in.

    1943 -- the publisher bought the company's first building to house EBONY and its sister publication Negro Digest at 5619 South State Street in Chicago.

    1945 -- launched Ebony, a breakthrough vehicle for national advertisers to target black middle-class markets.

    1949 -- opened first major building, a converted funeral parlor at 1820 South Michigan Ave. Remained the company headquarters for 23 years

    1951 -- created Jet (1951, a pocket-sized weekly publication that highlighted news of African-Americans in the social limelight, political arena, entertainment, business, and the sports world. With presently a readership of over eight million.....