John H. Johnson. The nation lost one of its media pioneers on Monday, Aug. 8, 2005, with the death of John H. Johnson. He was the Chicago entrepaneur and publisher who recognized that blacks aspired to be better off and have more — and that they were gaining the ability to pay for it. His magazines, including Negro Digest, Ebony and Jet, gave voice to a rising black middle class that emerged from World War II. It was a time when blacks were often degraded or more commonly ignored by white owned and operated media. But Johnson saw the rise of of black artists, athletes and actors as indicative of what all blacks aspired to — making life better for themselves and their children. Johnson’s death has been overshadowed by that of ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, which is too bad. Johnson’s effect on the mass media of the 20th century, and on American society itself, has been profound.
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