When John H. Johnson founded EBONY in 1945, he didn’t just create a magazine. He created an empire that would go on to set the stage and the standard for Black people in the publishing industry. His profound impact was so influential that now the prestigious Harvard Business School has decided to examine it.

On Harvard Business School’s Cold Call podcast host and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Brian Kenny invites an HBS professor to take listeners behind the scenes of a case. So in honor of Black History Month, Kenny met with Professor Steve Rogers to discuss his new course titled “Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship.” In the course, he examines Black leaders in the business world who may have gone unnoticed.

“I’m an alum of Harvard Business School. I absolutely love this institution. One of the things that had bothered me over time is the fact that we have 10,000 cases that we’ve published at Harvard Business School, approximately,” Rogers reveals. “My last count shows that less than 100 have Black protagonists.”

Rogers wrote fourteen case studies for this course and decided to create one around EBONY Magazine for a very specific reason.

EBONY Harvard Business School

“I selected this case because in my opinion John Johnson is one of America’s greatest entrepreneurs. This is a young man who pulled himself up from nothing with only a high school education, and he ended up creating a magnificently large company that not only created wealth for him but wealth for others.”

‘It’s more than a magazine, it’s a movement’ is not our tagline. It’s a way of life. Listen to the full conversation below or read it on the Harvard Business School Website.


Melissa Kimble is the Senior Social Media Manager for the EBONY brand. An advocate for Black Creatives via #blkcreatives, you can connect with her on Twitter at @Melissa_Kimble.