John H. Johnson was a pioneering magazine publisher, whose mission was to empower Black people with positive representations of themselves and spur political action with honest depictions of Black life.
Born in 1918 in Arkansas City, Arkansas, Johnson grew up in poverty but was a bright student through high school. Using his mom’s furniture as collateral on a $500 loan, Johnson published his first edition of Negro Digest in 1942. He then went on to start Ebony Magazine in 1945, Jet Magazine in 1951 and several more publications later on.
Johnson Publishing Company was the largest Black-owned publisher in the world for decades and went into other ventures such as book publishing, television production, cosmetics, and even fashion shows.
With everything he accomplished, Johnson believed that you should, “Dream small dreams. If you make them too big, you get overwhelmed and you don\’t do anything. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals.\”