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Celebrating EBONY Magazine, Which Turns 75 in 2020: Then and Now

Today marks EBONY magazine’s 74th anniversary. In celebration, we are reposting this exclusive November 2016 article that showcases our cover subjects through the years.

It’s our anniversary! On November 1, 1945, the first issue of EBONY magazine was published. Also, JET magazine was born on this day in 1951. Founded by John H. Johnson, these two publications pioneered the representation of Black America in the mainstream media, a position that Mr. Johnson had to fight for:

“My problem was advertising or, to come right out with it, the lack of advertising. How did I intend to deal with the problem? By persuading corporations and advertising executives to give EBONY the same consideration they gave Life and Look. To do that I had to convince corporations and advertising executives that there were was an untapped, underdeveloped Black consumer market larger and more affluent than some of the major White foreign markets. This was a a revolutionary approach – revolutionary from a racial, marketing, and advertising standpoint — and I couldn’t sell it to lower-level functionaries. I had to go to the top and sell the Black consumer market the same way you sell a foreign market.” —Succeeding Against The Odds: The Autobiography of a Great American Businessman

As we celebrate more than 70 years of excellence, take a look at how far we’ve come via the EBONY archives.

 October 1961 with the EBONY Fashion Fair Beauties vs. March 2016, The Body Brigade #WomenUp Issue

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

 February 1961 with Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis vs. February 2013 with Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

  May 1971 with Tina Turner vs. June 2014 with Beyoncé in Our Summer Music Special

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

 January 1971 with Muhammad Ali and Family vs. August 2016, Our Tribute Issue to the Champ

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

 November 1984 with Prince vs. June 2016, Our Tribute Issue to the Purple One

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

June 1994 with Eddie Murphy vs. the October/November 2016 Men’s Issue with Kevin Hart

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

 July 1962 featuring a young Diahann Carroll vs. July 2011 with Taraji P. Henson

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

August 1970 vs. August 2015—We’re still dealing with the same issues around the ownership of Black Culture.

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

 June 1969 with Betty Shabazz vs. September 2013 with the family of Trayvon Martin

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

April 1966 with Sammy Davis Jr. vs. July 2016 with Common

EBONY Magazine Anniversary Covers

What are some of your favorite EBONY magazine memories? Share with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the #EBONYArchives hashtag.

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