Ebony Magazine relaunched in digital format on March 1, 2021. Media veteran, Michele Ghee, was named CEO of Ebony and Jet in January. The new owner is former NBA player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman. He bought the magazine out of bankruptcy for $14 million in December 2020. Bridgeman’s daughter, Eden Bridgeman, will oversee Ebony Media.
“We wanted to signal the importance of women leaders, but we also know Ebony was for the family, and that is the pillar that we want to make sure we bring back,” said Bridgeman. The digital magazine will be updated daily and ad-supported. Freelance writers will provide editorial content. There are no plans to charge for digital subscriptions and Ebony to go back to print.
Founded by John H. Johnson in 1945, Ebony Magazine documented key moments of Black life. Images showed how African Americans lived, fashion, accomplishments, and concerns in the community. Ebony and Jet magazine were on the coffee tables of African American homes for over 70 years. Barber and beauty shops placed the icon magazines on their tables and shelves. During its peak in the 1980s, Ebony magazine had a circulation of over 2.3 million.
In 1955, Jet published the photograph of Emmett Till’s corpse in an open casket. Till was murdered in Money, MS, for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Ebony struggled to navigate in the digital era.
After Johnson’s death, daughter Linda Johnson Rice took over Johnson Publishing Company. In 2010, Rice sold the headquarters to Columbia College. The final print issue of Jet Magazine was in 2014. Rice sold Ebony and Jet to Clear View Group in 2016, a Texas-based equity firm. The last print of Ebony Magazine was in 2019. Ghee’s priority is to bring Ebony and Jet Magazine back to prominence.
“We’re going to ask for grace because we did this quickly.” But we are in a rush to show that we have great intentions. Our commitment is not to any city, but to the Black community. We know who our boss is and our boss is them, and their opportunity to have the truth. And we want to provide that,” -Michele Ghee
Ebony headquarters is based in Atlanta.
Tammy Gibson is a travel historian, author, and writer. Find her at Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr