|Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.A Page From Our American Story
In the first half of the twentieth century, Americans became fascinated with photo journalism. Pictures were literally “worth a thousand words” as full-color magazines and tabloid newspapers became the rage.
Publications targeted to African American audiences that featured illustrations and photographs began appearing in the early 1900s. One of the earliest to effectively use illustrations and photography was The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP. Seeking to educate and inform its readers with scholarly articles, the covers of the journal and its entertainment section were designed to appeal to the masses of African Americans.
In the 1930s, we see pictorial magazines such as Abbott’s Monthly, published by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper, and Flash, which billed itself as a “weekly newspicture magazine.” Published in Washington, D.C., Flash contained a mixture of news, gossip and advertisements and articles on racial issues, providing an overview of the highs and the lows of Black life in the 1930’s.
In 1942, African American businessman John H. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company, a corporation that would go on to publish the well-known magazines Ebony, Jet, Tan, and Ebony Jr. The magazines promoted African American achievements and affirmative black imagery in popular culture, which appealed to readers … and to advertisers. Mr. Johnson was a savvy businessman and used the statistics of a rising black middle class to persuade companies and businesses that it was in their economic “self-interest” to advertise in his magazines to reach African American consumers.
With the success of the Johnson Publishing Company’s magazines, other magazines targeted to African Americans quickly came on the scene. For example, in 1947 Horace J. Blackwell published Negro Achievements, a magazine highlighting African American success articles and featuring reader-submitted true confessions stories. After Blackwell died in 1949, a white businessman named George Levitan bought the company and renamed the publication Sepia. This publication featured columns by writer John Howard Griffin, a white man who darkened his skin and wrote about his treatment in the segregated South, that eventually became the best-selling book Black Like Me.
Whether featuring positive images of African Americans, inspiration stories, news features or commentaries on racism, the rise of African American magazines defied long-held racial stereotypes through rich storytelling, in-depth reporting, and stunning photography.
Due to a variety of economic, editorial, and other factors, most of these magazines have ceased being published. Yet today some African American magazines are still a thriving part of popular culture. Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony and its digital sites reach nearly 72% of African Americans and have a following of over 20.4 million people.
To read past Our American Stories, visit our archives.
Posted by Nils Frahm, composer
Posted: 08 Nov 2014 11:47 PM PST
A quarter-century later, it is our obligation to tell this story to all those who couldn’t be there, who could not feel the spark of the peaceful revolution and, more importantly, who are fortunate enough not to know the feeling of an incarcerated, divided existence, trapped behind concrete walls. It is a story that demands to be told today, and for generations to come.
I’m excited to have been part of making this doodle commemorating such a pivotal moment in history — to learn more about the making-of, check out the doodle team’s post here. We should all take the time to celebrate 25 years of unity.
Posted by Nils Frahm, composer
a debate from 5/2011, that is still relevant
With all the commotion about birthers, birthrights, citizenship and or any of the combinations out there, the past birther comments from trump and maybe his family made me wonder not only about their beliefs but what their supporter followers believe and if they even know how narrow minded this man might be. The idea that people actually are able to run for political office without being vetted sufficiently enough is heartbreaking and offensive. We cannot be so lax and not use all the tools needed to pull out important information like; will you represent ALL the people in your State or just a select few and please make a list that all Americans can look at. Naturally this issue struck me as concerning and a real problem as it affects all our families past, present and future. I guess birthrights was something he contemplated for awhile and considering what is currently in our News any and all speeches and or comments about birtherism should be posted and made available for anyone wondering how he feels about birthright citizenship. Therefore, I did a few weeks ago and this week I received a couple of comments via email so i posted and responded to both, which are below
ME: The reason i posted comments from Trough on my blog is because we all need to see and read what people say about birth rights and why – make sure our children of the future do not grow up to talk like or promote and learn it from people like Trough –
ME: Your comments about what Ron Paul wrote are your opinions, which if you live here in America are a right not a privilege and should not be taken for granted. What i did not like or agree and are in fact lies like your statements about President Obama. I saw your pix and you look like one of my sisters so to hear a person of colour write such things seemed odd and offensive. I know it makes no difference to you but both my parents are mixed and while there is def a long history of why i come from such a multi ethnic&; cultured family, we were brought up to accept rejoice and realize that America is a country made up of immigrants. We would not be such a rich and diverse country had the attitude you and Ron Paul have. In fact, with that kind of attitude, our families would not be in America let alone take part in that quest to make our lives and or our children’s lives better if Ron and Rand Paul had their way. I take issue with people who do not accept the 14th Amendment or who use race to bash and promote hate fear without evidence that anyone is bad simply because they might be undocumented. I don’t know about you but anyone that says no one in their family history was an immigrant is lying and if they made it to America then you should praise and thank them. I know that a complicit relationship was made a long time ago by big business who figured out how to cheat while paying little or nothing to people (immigrants) who had and still have no rights to fight back. We are a nation with- the rule of law and the undocumented need to be dealt with because no one has done so correctly – President Obama did not start this, however he did bring immigration out of the shadows. I don’t know why anyone would punish a child born in America of an undocumented mother because the quest for a better life for her child was the most important thing unless of course her intent was to wreak havoc or was a terrorist but i wager that the truth leans more toward looking for a better life. I think the Dream Act would help take care of all those children who for the most part are great students some have become great teachers and or innovators that should have an opportunity to do good things for America. We should hold companies accountable. The undocumented, if upstanding given an opportunity and a path toward citizenship-Ron Paul says anchor babies are wrong and if i read your comment about birthright citizenship and how it relates to anchor babies correctly you seem to insist that President Obama is something other than an American and that is a lie – I really think you need to do some of your own research. Btw, not all Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics or Whites are bad but you do know America has white terrorists who are bad-
Final comments left …
Actually, I went to your site and read your comments or what you call critiques. I said we live in America and thank goodness, freedom of speech is just one great reason to live here. However, I read your comments in a much diff way and will stand firm. I think it’s fun and amusing that anyone would give themselves props for anything the mainstream media says because in my opinion it’s lame offensive and full of lies. If that is what you want, props for them and so be it, but most people are not happy with the right of center biased comments from “the media.” My President , President Barack H. Obama is not only underestimated people boost his polls because they are actually comparing and contrasting his comments against what the Republican Tea Party and the folks who control cable news as well as mainstream media thank you very much. I know a lot of folks would love to take the victory lap but he is his own force moving toward that change 53% of Americans voted for – I give any and or all props to this President -full credit for all that he does. – Well, welcome to America and thank you for responding to the rethinking birthrights citizenship essay that Ron Paul wrote though if I read your blog correctly you support his point of view, which was why I responded originally. I still am offended by his views in that essay as well as anything else he says when he is on the airwaves about Race, birthright including the 14thAmendment.
To be sure, we have all thought about the history of Friday the 13… right
just another rant …
I think we have all used it as an excuse, but if you take everything our POTUS has had to address over the last eight years you hope that other superstition about everything happening in sevens is right around the corner. The 114th and now the 115th Congress, controlled by Republicans meets less, holds more hearings all paid for by taxpayers, debates and votes on legislation that does NOT always support their constituents or their best interests. They are the epitome of what Friday the 13 is all about and while voters were warned, we had eight years of experiencing the wrath of the party of no … why? because people continue to stay home instead of exercising their right to vote … #MidTermsMatter
In addition, the 2017 calendar is giving us 2 Friday the 13ths which happens more often than not but reports are that our fellow Americans in the northeast apparently get more snow blizzards with extreme cold … which can lead to flooding, while the NW is experiencing more than enough rain to make up for some drought
We must all remember that this is not only disaster weather season it is also when Republicans go into full campaign mode. We used to think that government is there when all else has failed. The fact is the Party of No says one thing does another hoping the voter sees nothing. Unfortunately, unlike the tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding that happens mostly Republican States, we see the disaster that seems atypical of the Republican Party of No. We all need to question those States with Republicans in control who have not in my opinion invested enough money or effort in making sure all their constituents are safe, have an emergency plan, a place to go or transportation to evacuate. Though, if you listen they want and advocate less government, less taxes, less debt, less spending unless their state needs money to plug their budgets or women who dare want need reproductive rights … just a few of several examples of why in this election year people need to be more aware.
We all know a vote for Rand Paul is a vote for going back in time when a certain group treated Women and Minorities like things or inanimate objects. In fact, the current class and culture warfare is enough to see why we the People should not vote for any Republican until they stop the racism, discrimination and that family values platform that takes women back to a time when being seen but not heard and producing babies all the time was the norm. It is not a healthy way to live and all I have heard from Republicans are unhealthy attitudes toward women, gays, children, and people of colour, who they really want to control and or disenfranchise at the ballot box. We only have to look at the number of brown and black men in our jails and or prisons, who more often than not are charged excessively compared to white defendants.
I think we all agree that this has to be the worse time or moment to be President of the US yet, if folks would do their research, the improvements or changes are moving us into the right direction but change takes time. Though we all heard about the meetings and requests for money from Wall Street and Banks by Republicans as reported by talking heads on cable or hearing Speaker Boehner made a visit and held a presser which showed him shaking hands with one if not both Koch brothers.
Speaking of Money, it is important to be reminded of the stimulus, which Republicans voted down but knew they were all going to get for “their” constituents anyway, gave out big checks and took credit for the money while bashing and stating the Obama Administration is spending excessively. Who knew that Republican Governors would plug their budgets, give the stimulus to their “special interest groups”, or make big bold statements at ribbon cuttings. I guess it should have been obvious to us that Republicans had an agenda that included eliminating social programs or persons employed by the State or Federal government. They say the best middle class jobs are created by small business people but the fact is most are public service positions. It is important to remind folks that Republicans say stop spending, stop entitlements and continue to be the Party of No while being pro-Wall Street, pro-Banks; maybe doing backroom deals or fund-raising with folks like the Koch bros for the upcoming elections; in spite of We the People. The question is …why if in the right state of mind anyone would vote Republicans into Political Office in the upcoming midterms knowing that it will be bringing back the status quo. The change in 2014 means voting for members of Congress who will have the courage in this vile environment to put People before Profit and Party, at this moment it is a Democratic Party. We all know that did not happen so our next attempt to get the positive change we need is to vote for the Democratic Party all down the ballot in 2016.
In my utopia, among the obvious those wanting to be in public service would be required to believe in equal rights for everyone, true Reforms of entities that gamble while creating products meant to fail that impact or demolish our economy locally and globally.
Nevertheless, that is just my dream and ok, it’s Friday the 13th
I recommend checking out the Mann V Ford post and click on some of the links … the link above is a hidden gem, fierce documentation of corporate excessive use of and possibly the worse abuse of power …