In its heyday, Jet magazine was babsence folks’ ticket to their own civilization. It conestablished the notion that they were lazy, had actually little to say that anyone cared about, and also had actually never before made history of any type of worth.

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In its pperiods, they were beautiful. And talented. And had money (at least some of them). And lived well. And gained married in lavish ceremonies. And were stars in Hollyhardwood movies. And marched for their civil civil liberties. And died for their civil civil liberties. And prayed. And hurt each other. And looked good in bathing suits.

In other words, they were all shades of human.


This digest-sized magazine was “the” read in black dwellings, barber shops and beauty shops. Strewn atop coffee tables for kinfolks and also friends to devour. Even this particular day, you’ll most likely find old copies of it and its sister magazine Ebony in basements bereason the majority of world never before threw them away.

Tbelow was never an Ebony or Jet in my home when I was thriving up. I’m certain I need to have come throughout both magazines somearea, somewright here, however I have no memory of them. Later, as an adult, I perform respeak to analysis Jet while I waited in a beauty shop for my hair to be done. It was that kind of magazine, one you just had actually to pick up and nibble on – the posts were normally extremely short – and also you constantly discovered something new.

That’s why at auction recently, I snapped up 10 editions of Jet, lying tright here on the auction table among items from the estate of a babsence sailor. There was no resolve label on the magazines, so he likely picked them up at a keep and conserved them. They were all from 1963 to 1971.

The sailor apparently preserved these specific magazines bereason they chronicled pieces of the civil legal rights movement of the1960s and also its heroes:


Five carried cover photos or stories associated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: the Selma to Montgomery March (post in photo on left), the Memphis garbage employees strike, his wife Coretta and also their youngsters, King’s assassination (photo on right), Ralph Bunche’s birthday tribute to King and also a special report on King’s dream and household. Two others were about the Kennedy brothers – John F. and also his heritage to blacks and Robert F.’s assassicountry. (I additionally loved the old Fight It Out hair commodities ads of future “Shaft” star Ricdifficult Roundtree.)

There were stories of the a lot of crucial news events of the week, in addition to news based upon such topics as sporting activities, entertainment, education and learning, service and culture. And the familiar bathing suit centerfold (whatever before happened to those women?).

Back then, Jet could fit easily into your hand (it’s size was 4 ¼” x 6″) and it had 66 pperiods. The 1971 worry had actually grown up a bit – to 5 ¼” x 7 ½”. It had actually become the dimension of a current Jet that I picked up at a booksave.

That’s wbelow the similarities ended, though. On the cover of the 1971 problem was Whitney M. Young Jr., executive director of the National Urban Organization, that had suddenly passed away. Inside, the content was pure Jet. On the cover of the Nov. 1/8, 2010, was Janet Jackson in a hot red dress from the movie “For Colored Girls.” That copy – which resembled a slick variation of Ebony – was pretty flimsy and lightweight, especially in its content.


The adjust was understandable – if not a tiny as well late. Jet, Ebony and also the Johnson Publishing Co. are fighting to survive. Just this week, the firm started by John H. Johnson and his wife Eunice announced that it had offered its Michigan Avenue building – which had been its home since 1972 – to Columbia College Chicback. Over the past year of so, news of the company’s financial woes have actually seeped out: It reorganized its staff, laid off some height executives and also had talks with Magic Johnboy Enterprises around offering to the former basketsphere star.

The company’s troubles are a sign of the times (declining ad earnings are hurting many type of publications) and demonstrate its sluggishness at recognizing the transforms in its readers’ tastes and interests. A few comments I came throughout on blogs were divided on whether to assist save Ebony and also Jet by subscribing to the magazines. Some thought the firm had actually faibrought about be pertinent anyeven more.

It didn’t begin out that method. When both were established, blacks obtained a lot of of the news around themselves from regional black newsdocuments in cities that had actually them. Some of those newsrecords were mairesulted in subscribers in other cities, but tbelow were no orginally reported news magazines favor Jet or slick magazines choose Ebony.

As a young male, Johnkid operated at Supreme Life Insurance Company wbelow he compiled a digest of newspaper posts. Figuring that various other blacks would choose the exact same information, he conceived the concept of Negro Digest. When others wondered about that it would occupational, his mother had faith in him. She provided her furniture as collateral for a $500 loan, and he convinced 3,000 of the insurance company’s policyholders to subscribe at $2 each. With his wife, he publiburned the initially copy of Negro Digest in June 1942.

The magazine did not take off favor Johnson’s next venture, Ebony, aimed at showing “not only the Negroes however also white world that Negroes acquired married, had beauty contests, provided parties, ran successful businesses, and did all the other normal points of life,” he shelp in an interview.


In Jet, Johnkid founded a various type of magazine. Bite-sized and chocked full of news and babsence and also white photos, it was billed as “The Weekly Negro News Magazine.” Both magazines flouriburned for years, and also currently despite their troubles, they are testaments to one man’s doggedness and storypublications of our previous.

At the auction, I wasn’t sure what the Jet magazines would certainly go for or who would bid against me. When they came up, I was one of 2 bidders, however I was able to gain them all for $11.

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Jet and also Ebony magazines don’t come up frequently at the auctions I attfinish, and also I was happy to acquire them. They supposedly had actually been prized by this sailor because they were in very great condition. Too poor the firm hasn’t been able to endure so intact.