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date: 26 October 2020


  • Todd Steven Burroughs


Ebony magazine is the first successful national “big picture” magazine to feature African Americans. Ebony was created in 1945—three years after its founder, the magazine publisher John H. Johnson, began publishing Negro Digest. Ebony has documented every major development of black life from 1945 to the present, becoming a staple of the media diet of the African American middle class. Ebony, a fixture in any urban bookstore or newsstand, has helped shape two generations of African Americans, providing information and inspiration to millions. As a result of the Chicago-based magazine's success, Johnson spawned one of the largest black-owned businesses of the twentieth century, realizing a market for black-oriented print advertising along the way.

Johnson adapted established white mainstream magazine formats to black Americans. Ebony was modeled after Life and Look magazines in the same way that Negro Digest (later called Black World) was modeled after Reader ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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