New Stamp Features Ebony, Jet Founder

Publisher John H. Johnson founded Johnson Publishing Co. on a $500 loan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    John H. Johnson, the founder of Jet & Ebony magazine, was immortalized on a stamp as part of the Black Heritage series. (Published Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012)

    Publisher John H. Johnson, who created Ebony and Jet magazines, will be honored on this year's Black Heritage stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

    A Tuesday ceremony is planned in Johnson's hometown of Arkansas City, where he lived until moving to Chicago with his family at age 15.

    Johnson founded Johnson Publishing Co. on a $500 loan using his mother's furniture as collateral. At the time, he was working as a clerk at a black-owned life insurance company.

    He created Ebony in 1945 with a press run of 25,000 copies. Its circulation topped 1.6 million at the time of Johnson's death in 2005 at the age of 87. Johnson also founded the newsweekly Jet in 1951.

    "His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and he played an important role in the civil rights movement," Stephen Kearney, manager of USPS' Stamp Services, said when announcing the stamp last year.

    The magazines became two of the longest-running black-oriented magazines in the country.

    The Black Heritage stamp, featuring a color photo of Johnson taken by photographer David McCann, goes on sale Tuesday and is being issued as a Forever stamp.

    Past honorees include Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, singer Ella Fitzgerald, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, poet Langston Hughes and baseball player Jackie Robinson.