November was a particularly significant month for the Johnson Publishing Company, which debuted its magazines Ebony and Jet on November 1 in 1945 and 1951, respectively. Also in November, publisher John H. Johnson debuted the Negro Digest publication.
Ebony’s debut was published on November 1, 1945, selling 25,000 copies at twenty-five cents per copy. Banking on Ebony’s success and its focus on Black excellence, Jet magazine debuted six years after on the same date in 1951. It was billed the “Weekly Negro News Magazine” and was a small-format, quick read magazine that featured the popular “Jet Beauty of the Week” centerfold.
Also in November 1942, the Johnson Publishing Company debuted Negro Digest, styled as an African-American counter to Reader’s Digest. The publication first fell out of print in 1951 but was revived and then renamed Black World in 1970 before ceasing publication in 1976.
In the 21st Century, the Johnson Publishing Company saw more competition and the shift from print to digital. Around 2010, the company began selling off portions of its business holdings. In 2014, Jet ceased magazine publication and becoming solely a digital outlet.
In 2016, Ebony, after 71 years, and largely diminished in value, was sold to a group of investors.
To help offset debt, the company auctioned off its massive photo archive which was purchased by a collectivec of foundations, including the National Museum of African American History And Culture. The final sale of the archives was $30 million, and the images will eventually be made available to the public in digital format.
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