Jet and Ebony to Sell Over 5 Million images from their archives. I can only imagine what great images this collection must have of African-American history.
Johnson Publications of Chicago — the parent company of Jet and Ebony magazines — in hopes of raising $40 million, is selling off its photographic collection that contains more than five million of the most iconic images of African-American life and culture. That the venerable black-owned firm will “monetize valuable assets” reminds me of a saying I first heard from my Georgia farm-raised grandfather: Don’t ever eat your seed corn.
The beginning of my mindful journey to know as much as I could about African-American history, life and culture started when I was ten years old in the form of a photo in Jet magazine. It was September, 1955 when my semi-literate grandfather, who migrated to Harlan County, Kentucky in the early ’20s to work in the coal mines, handed me the issue of Jet with the cover photo and story about Chicago teen, Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. For me, and millions of others, young Till’s horrifically disfigured head became the hallmark image of the world that Black Americans in my generation would see and live — and try to change — for a long time to come.