As a child, I loved glossy magazines. I particularly loved it when my mother bought and later subscribed to magazines like Ebony and Jet. Because it does resonate when you see people like yourself on the covers, in the stories and in the ads. Granted, sometimes the marketing is retarded, but the fact is they're marketing to you.
Johnson Publishing is a black-owned company that is based in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson when he started a magazine called Negro Digest. The company is still in operation today and they still publish both Ebony and Jet magazines too. They also have offices across the States and abroad in London and Paris.
Now what's cool is Johnson Publishing partnered with Google Books to digitize all the issues of these magazines. Prior to that the only source for finding on clippings was at a Flickr site*.
I've clicked around and, I've got to say, I was just so happy to see these magazines digitized. It's a great resource. I say that because not only are there blacks who need to learn their history, there are people of other races who have no real concept of the black experience in the context of history.
Who can forget this wonderful writer?
Another story I heard just over the weekend was a young white lady, who was being completely sincere, asked a black journalist why didn't black women vote when women got the vote in 1920. This journalist had to explain that black women didn't get the vote in 1871 and furthermore:
1965 - The Voting Rights ActThe fact is, while it was on the books, black people couldn't vote.
After blacks were granted the right to vote in 1871, literacy requirements, physical violence, property destruction, hiding the polls and economic pressures still kept many blacks from voting, particularly in the South. In some states, a voter could vote in primary elections only if his grandfather had been able to vote in primaries; other states only allowed whites to vote in the primaries. In the largely Democratic South, these laws prevented descendants of slaves from having an effective vote. The Voting Rights Act was enacted in direct response to the Civil Rights movement. The act bans literacy tests and provides federal enforcement of voter registration and voting rights.
That might seem astounding to you, but the reality is the onus is on minorities to learn the history of the majority and not the other way around. There are people on both sides of the spectrum who fall short and there are others who make an effort and excel. This is a resource that can help people who make an effort.
Having these magazines digitized is one way to reverse that. So check them out but also spread the word and let people know these are now available online.
Black World/Negro Digest
So, explore, have at it and enjoy!
Oh, and for those who might wander onto my blog and ask the incredibly obtuse question "Why isn't there a White World or Caucasian Digest?" let me refer you to something I blogged a couple of years ago: Rachel's Tavern: Why There is a BET and There isn't a WET
BTW, there are other magazines that focus on black issues and history like Black Enterprise, which is geared towards black businesses, and, one I subscribe to, American Legacy, their catch phrase is "know your history".
I haven't mentioned them all, so if you've got a favorite you want to talk about, post a comment.
*I can't locate the link now, but when I do, I'll link it.
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