Updated: Sep 18
Trailblazer John H Johnson of the Johnson Publishing Company created Ebony Jr! in 1973 to give Black children a magazine that was all their own. The magazine featured stories, comics, puzzles, and cartoons centering Black children. Its contents combined elements of Black culture, Black history, and elementary curriculum in an effort to ignite a love of reading and a love of self in Black children.
"At his new $8‐million, 11‐story headquarters in Chicago, John H. Johnson, the multi‐millionaire black publisher, said that the success of such a major children's publication, as Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, High Light and Children's Digest had, in part, inspired him to think about a publication devoted exclusively to the needs and aspirations of black children. These publications, he said, “will occasionally have a black face or story with blacks in it, but they really do not deal with the black child.” (quoted from a must-read May 1973 New York Times article about the launch of Ebony Jr.)
"Children need windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors." Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop Dr. Sims Bishop was referring to books, but this idea can and should be applied to all facets of life.
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop
This culturally significant publication had a huge impact on a generation of young Black readers. Ebony Jr! went out of print in 1985, but many of the issues can still be read online. We've curated a list here: EBONY JR!
Here are some of the beautiful covers from Johnson Publishing Company. What do you think?
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