The date was November 1/1945. Most of us weren't even born yet.
A new hefty coffee table, artsy-fartsy, trendy magazine hit the newstands. The first magazine published of its kind. Ebony Magazine. A magazine dedicated to the blacks of America, showcasing the achievements of African-Americans, putting them into a more positive light. The first cover, ironically showed seven pre-teen boys, six were white while only one was black.
The pubisher, John H. Johnson started the magazine calling his publishing company 'The Negro Digest' with a $500 loan using his mothers furniture as collateral.
He decided that it would improve the race relations between white and blacks to soften the blow, by using just one black, instead of highlighting some famous black American like Billie Holiday. A wise decision. The first issue was a success at 25,000 copies sold. In 1997 circulation peaked with almost 2 million copies in print.
The magazine centred itself around fashion and beauty for blacks, civil rights, education, entrepreneurial enterprises, and important black history, and stories real and folk lore. Things about African-Americans that the main stream 'white' magazines totally ignored. Ebony overed the stories when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organized a boycott, won the Nobel Peace Prize, marched on Selma Alabama, his murder and funeral. The famous photographer Moneta Sleet won the Pulitzer Prize the first African-American to win that award. It had the distinction of having the first interview with now first black president, Barrack Obama.
Circulation continues, a mainstay for African-Americans estimated to be over 1.1 million.
The magazine has recently made a statement with it's September issue, declaring 'We Are Trayvon'
An exhibit on John H. Johnson News History Gallery
Online Ebony Magazine