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Entries : Johnson Publishing Co.
Johnson Publishing Co.

Johnson Publishing Co.

John H. Johnson moved with his family from Arkansas City to Chicago in 1933, when he was a teenager. In 1942, after working for the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Co., the 24-year-old Johnson began to publish Negro Digest, a weekly publication covering the nation's African American community. Negro Digest used a format similar to that of the mass-market weekly Reader's Digest. In 1945, Johnson introduced Ebony magazine, the large-format glossy magazine that became the company's flagship publication. By the 1950s, Ebony's circulation had climbed to 500,000; it would reach one million during the 1970s. Another magazine intended for African American readers, Jet, was introduced in 1951. The company launched its annual Ebony Fashion Fair in 1958, a traveling fashion show that had raised $48 million for scholarships and charities by the early twenty-first century. By the 1970s, when it moved into the cosmetics business with Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Johnson Publishing ranked as the second-largest African American–owned company in the United States. Annual revenues passed $100 million in the early 1980s, when the company employed about 1,000 people in the Chicago area. By the end of the century, Johnson Publishing had added several more cosmetic lines, radio and television production, and a book division publishing African American authors to its family-owned business. John Johnson continued to lead the company, which posted over $400 million a year in revenues and employed 2,600 people nationwide.