Ebony Publisher Loses Battle with Illness
John H. Johnson, founder, publisher and chairman of Johnson Publishing Co. Inc., which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, died Aug. 8 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, of heart failure after an undisclosed illness. He was 87.
He founded the cosmetics and media empire in 1942. He started Ebony in 1945 and nurtured it to become the largest African American-owned magazine in the world, according to the company's Web site, with a current circulation of 1.7 million. Johnson founded Jet in 1951 and launched the monthly Ebony Man in 1985.
Johnson was born into poverty in Arkansas City, Ark., in 1918. He credits his mother, Gertrude Johnson Williams, for giving him his start. His wife Eunice W. Johnson, secretary treasurer of the company, and his daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, who is chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing, supported Johnson throughout his career.
In his autobiography, "Succeeding Against the Odds," Mr. Johnson said, "I believe that the only failure is failing to try ... and if my life has meaning ... it is because millions of Americans, Black and White, have proved through me that the Dream is still alive and well and working in America."