On the eve of Black History Month 2012, we at EBONY, EBONY.com and the whole Johnson Publishing Company couldn’t have our chests puffed up anymore.
Because today the U.S. Postal Service unveils the 2012 Black Heritage stamp honoring our founder, the legendary—and maverick, might we add—Chicago-based publisher John H. Johnson.
Johnson (1918 – 2005) is the trailblazing publisher of Ebony, Jet, Tan (do your research!) and other magazines, and an entrepreneur who in 1982 became the first African American listed by Forbes magazine as one of the 400 wealthiest people in America. Johnson overcame poverty and racism to build a business empire embracing magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and played an important role in the civil rights movement.
“I am immensely proud that my father and his life’s passion are being recognized in such high an honor as the Black Heritage Stamp,” said Linda Johnson Rice, Chairwoman, Johnson Publishing Company. “His legacy lives on in all whom he touched and in the work we continue to do daily.”
Indeed Johnson was a prideful, stalwart figure for Blacks representing an indomitable spirit of possibility and redefined Blackness. For him, we didnt exist inside mainstream culture, mainstream culture existed along side us. One of the most quote worthy men of his day, Johnson once said, “When I go in to see people—and I sell an occasional ad now—I never say, ‘Help me because I am Black’ or ‘Help me because I am a minority.’ I always talk about what we can do for them.”
The Postal Service has recognized the achievements of prominent African Americans through the Black Heritage series since 1978. This stamp honoring Johnson is the 35th stamp in that series, which highlights outstanding individuals who helped shape American culture.
The Black Heritage stamp honoring John H. Johnson is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate. It was designed by USPS art director Howard Paine and features a photograph of John H. Johnson by Bachrach Studios. The photographer was David McCann.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations (not to mention, employs whole lot of African Americans, so let’s support!).