At Davis Staffing, we observe Black History Month because we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other, especially in the workplace. And we always appreciate a worthy cause to celebrate! Celebrating Black History Month (and other cultural differences) also has the effect of reducing stereotypes and biases and improves workplace morale.

One way to honor and commemorate Black History Month is by sharing the stories and history from the Black community that may not be well known or omitted from history lessons. This February, we would like to share the story of Johnson Publishing, publisher of Jet and Ebony Magazines, which were founded and printed in Chicago, IL.

At its peak, Johnson Publishing Company operated with a staff of hundreds that included journalists, editors, photographers, and various professionals involved in the production and distribution of Jet and Ebony magazines. Additionally, the company had employees working in other areas, such as advertising, marketing, and administrative roles.

Jet and Ebony magazines played a crucial role in breaking racial barriers in the media industry and provided opportunities for African American writers, journalists, and other professionals to contribute to the fields of journalism and publishing.

Both magazines provided essential information for readers, with Ebony featuring lifestyle articles in monthly issues while Jet focused on news, gossip and other timely matters in its weekly issues. Ebony, first published in 1945, was not the first magazine for John Johnson and his wife, Eunice; their first magazine was “Negro Digest,” created when they were students at the University of Chicago. Ebony was a great success from the beginning, allowing the company to expand and begin publishing Jet six years later, in 1951.

The Johnsons believed in supporting their community in many ways, including using their profits to fund efforts of the Civil Rights Movement and fighting to publish pictures of Emmett Till in his open casket in order to underscore the atrocity of his death.

At their peak, in the 1990s, Jet and Ebony were being sent to nearly 2 millions homes across the United States and beyond. Sadly, both magazines have ceased print publication, other than a special issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip hop last fall; their legacies continue online as both have become multimedia operations that continue to strive to provide important information to their audiences.

Many of the issues at the heart of the Johnson Publishing empire continue to be pressing and important today, including the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

If your company is looking to expand with new hires, or if you’d like other advice on how best to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in your company, call Davis Staffing today. Our experts can help you navigate these conversations, and we can work to ensure your job postings are free of any bias or language that might limit the candidates who are considering applying to join your team. Call Davis Staffing and let us help you build a diverse and culturally rich workforce!