Ebony and Jet Photos Sold For $30 Million

...will be donated to museums

July 26, 2019

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"Until you made it in The Jet, you haven't made it in the African American community," stated Darren Walker - president of The Ford Foundation. " That story is a metaphor for the reverence and credibility that Ebony and Jet magazines held for decades."

African American History Museum
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A conglomerate of foundations – including The Ford Foundation - are now the new owners of 4 million iconic photos from America’s most iconic black magazines. USA Today reports the Ford Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation acquired the archive of Ebony and Jet magazines now-bankrupt former publisher Johnson Publishing Company for $30 million following a weeklong auction. The group agreed to donate more than 4 million prints and negatives chronicling African American history to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute.

"The story of (and) the narrative of African Americans won't be for sale. You won't have to pay to have access to that history," Walker said. "That history belongs to the public." The massive collection of images chronicles the civil rights movement and the lives of prominent figures including Emmett Till lying in his coffin, Coretta Scott King, Billie Holiday, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder. Chicago-based Johnson Publishing filed for bankruptcy protection in April of this year. They have tried since 2015 to sell its photo archive. It was once appraised at $46 million.

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Ebony Magazine Archives
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Article written based up information received from Associated Press and USA Today