Johnson, John Harold

Johnson, John Harold,

1918–2005, African-American magazine publisher, b. Arkansas City, Ark. The son of a mill worker, he began his career editing a Chicago insurance company magazine. In 1942 he started Negro Digest, a periodical modeled on Reader's Digest. Encouraged by its success, he founded (1945) Ebony, a large-format magazine covering the life of America's black community, and saw it grow from an initial circulation of 25,000 to 1.6 million in 2004. Johnson, who also published Jet (est. 1951) and other magazines and owned a cosmetics line, was one of the nation's richest and most powerful black business executives.
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Johnson, John Harold

(1918–  ) publisher, consumer products executive; born in Arkansas City, Ark. He founded Johnson Publishing Co. (1942) and launched the Negro Digest (1942), a successful compilation modeled on Reader's Digest but aimed at African-Americans. That was followed by Ebony (1945), a breakthrough vehicle for national advertisers to target black middle-class markets. His other corporate interests included radio stations, books, and cosmetics, and for many years he was known as the richest African-American.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.