Ebony Publisher John H. Johnson, 87, Dies
EBONY/JET/FASHION FAIR COSMETICS FOUNDER LEAVES HISTORIC LEGACY
John H. Johnson, founder, publisher and chairman of Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., died August 8 in Chicago at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was 87. Johnson was the founder of a major international media and cosmetics empire that includes EBONY and JET magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics and EBONY Fashion Fair. It is the No. 1 African-American publishing company in the world founded in 1942.
Mr. Johnson, who borrowed $500 on his mother's furniture and created a publishing and cosmetics empire, is credited as one of the major trailblazers and he is recognized as the founder of the African-American consumer market. The founder and publisher succumbed after an extended illness on the 60th anniversary of Ebony magazine, which, under his leadership, has been the biggest Black-owned magazine in the world for 60 straight years.
In 2002, Johnson named Linda Johnson Rice, the chief operating officer and chief executive officer of the company, but retained the title of chairman and publisher until his death.
Rice said her father was active in company affairs. "He was in his office and alert and active until the end. He was the greatest salesman and CEO I have ever known, but he was also a father, friend and mentor with a great sense of humor who never stopped climbing mountains and dreaming dreams."
Throughout his career, Mr. Johnson received several awards including, the highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Magazine Publisher's Association Publisher of the Year Award, the Advertising Hall of Fame Award, the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Award, the National Business Hall of Fame Award, the Greatest Minority Entrepreneur Award, the Horatio Alger Award and the NAACP Spingarn Award. In 2003 Howard University in Washington, D.C., established the John H. Johnson School of Communications in his honor. In 2005 the John H. Johnson Delta Cultural and Entrepreneurial Learning Center in Arkansas City was dedicated. Mr. Johnson received several honorary doctoral degrees from universities including Harvard University, the University of Southern California, Northwestern University, Howard University and Morehouse College.