John H. Johnson, the late founder of Ebony and Jet magazines has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service and will be featured on the agency’s annual Black Heritage Forever Stamp.
According to the Associated Press, the stamp was unveiled Jan. 31 in Johnson’s hometown of Arkansas City, Kans., where Johnson grew up. His family moved to Chicago when he was 15.
After working at a Black-owned life insurance company, Johnson founded Johnson Publishing Co. with a $500 loan.
He launched Ebony in 1945 and launched Jet in 1951. By the time of Johnson’s death in 2005, he helmed a business empire which included magazines, cosmetics, radio stations, and book publishing. According to BlackAmericaWeb, he was the first Black person on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest people in America in 1982.
“His magazines portrayed Black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and he played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement,” Stephen Kearney, manager of the USPS’ Stamp Services said in a statement, according to the AP.
Johnson was hailed for spotlighting African-American achievement and persuading White-owned companies to feature Black models in their ads. Through Johnson’s tireless efforts, Ebony and Jet became two of the most successful Black-oriented magazines in the country.
“I’m immensely proud that my father and his life’s passion are being recognized in such a high honor as the Black Heritage Stamp,” Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson’s daughter and current chairman of Johnson Publishing Co. said in a statement. “His legacy lives on in all whom he touched and in the work we continue to do daily.”
The stamp was designed by Postal Service art director Howard Paine and features a photograph taken by photographer David McCann.
The USPS has honored prominent African Americans in its Black Heritage series since 1978. Past honorees include Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, singer Ella Fitzgerald and poet Langston Hughes.
This year’s Black Heritage Stamp is available at post offices nationwide or online at USPS.Com.