This Day In History: November 1

Changing the day will navigate the page to that given day in history. You can navigate days by using left and right arrows

The first issue of Ebony magazine—featuring profiles of writer Richard Wright and jazz singer Hazel Scott, and stories about African Americans in publishing, the color line in Brazil and a sale of African art in Philadelphia—is published on November 1, 1945. The monthly magazine chronicles Black life in America, including the fight for civil rights, and provides a forum for African Americans to reflect on and celebrate their own communities.

Following its launch, Ebony became an immediate success. Founded only two months after the end of World War II, the magazine reflected African Americans' postwar determination to claim their rights as equal citizens. John H. Johnson, the founder of the magazine, wrote in 1975 that "Ebony was founded to provide positive images for blacks in a world of negative images and non-images. It was founded to project all dimensions of the black personality in a world saturated with stereotypes." Ebony was Johnson's answer to Life magazine, but tailored for African Americans. In 1951, Johnson also founded the weekly news magazine Jet. Ebony and Jet offered a vision of Black middle-class life which revolutionized American media, providing the first major outlets for Black representation.

Ebony boasted a talented staff of photojournalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Moneta Sleet Jr., David Jackson and Isaac Sutton. Their photo essays depicted African Americans with "psychological closeness due to their unique proximity that no other publications matched." Subjects ranged from musicians (Billie Holiday, Miles Davis) political figures (Shirley Chisholm, Thurgood Marshall) and writers (Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks).

The magazine also developed a deep connection to the civil rights movement. Ebony published a monthly column by Martin Luther King Jr. titled "Advice for Living" in 1957 and 1958. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, both Ebony and Jet became trusted sources for news on the struggle against Jim Crow and anti-Black discrimination. In 1955, Jet reported the story of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, including disturbing photos of his open-casket funeral. Outrage over Till's murder propelled the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott later the same year.

Ebony grew in popularity through the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, the magazine was said to have reached more than 40 percent of Black adults in the U.S. Corporations, initially reluctant to advertise in a magazine for a Black audience, soon bought into Ebony's success. In 1982, John H. Johnson earned a spot on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans, the first Black man to do so. On the 75th anniversary of the magazine, LeRonn P. Brooks of the Getty Research Institute wrote, "there is no more important archive of twentieth-century African American life and culture" than Ebony.