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November 1st is historic for the Black magazine industry because three major publications were started on this day in history. The Crisis Magazine was published in 1910 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ebony magazine was first published in 1945 by John H. Johnson who would also go on to start Jet magazine on the same day in 1951.
The Crisis Magazine was published monthly and W.E.B Du Bois served as editor of the magazine for its first 24 years of publication. Du Bois played a key role in the creation of the NAACP’s first official magazine. He hoped that the magazine would show the dangers of racial prejudice in America.
The Crisis was an important platform for young black writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Poets such as Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Jean Toomer were encouraged or discovered by Jessie Redmon Fauset while she served as literary editor. The magazine turned out to be a success by the end of its first decade and grew to a monthly circulation of 100,000 copies.
In 1934 the magazine lost one of its founding members when Du Bois stepped down as editor following frequent clashes with NAACP’s board members who opposed some of his controversial opinions. The publication continues to be a pillar of communication for the NAACP to the present day.
Following the lead of Crisis magazine, John H. Johnson created Ebony magazine in 1945 and six years later he created Jet magazine on the same day. Both publications helped to pioneer the representation of black people in mainstream media.
John H. Johnson leveraged a $500 loan and $6,000 worth of charter subscriptions to launch his initial publication, Negro Digest, which later became Black World. The first office of the Johnson Publishing Co. was located in Chicago and after three years Ebony magazine was established.
Both magazines strive to address African-American culture, issues and interests. Jet magazine was instrumental in chronicling the Civil Rights Movement, most notably the murder of Emmett Till whose slain body could be viewed on the cover. To this day, magazine lovers can find the latest stories that Jet and Ebony magazines have to offer online.