Arkansas City native, the late John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, will be honored with an official holiday, Friday, Nov. 1. John H. Johnson Day was established April 16, 2019, during the 92nd General Assembly.
The official holiday will be unveiled at two locations Nov. 1: at 10 a.m. in Arkansas City at the John H. Johnson Museum and Educational Center (John H. Johnson Museum); and at 5:30 p.m. in Little Rock at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. The events are free to attend.
Johnson died in 2005. He published Ebony and Jet magazines, and was the founder, publisher, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., once the largest Black-owned publishing company in the world, according to a news release.
Linda Johnson Rice, John H. Johnson’s daughter, will be the featured speaker at both celebrations honoring her father.
Chairwoman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. (JPC), Rice is also owner of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, and the former chairwoman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations, parent company of Ebony and Jet magazine brands.
“Her influence spans business and editorial, from planning the strategic direction of the global beauty brand to setting the tone of the heritage magazines,” according to the release.
Friends of the John H. Johnson Museum, curators of John H. Johnson Day, said November was selected for Johnson’s holiday because it was the month that Ebony started.
Margena A. Christian, author of the book, Empire: The House That John H. Johnson Built, said recognizing Johnson in November is fitting.
“Mr. Johnson would always say November was his golden month,” said Christian, who worked closely with Johnson at his publishing company in Chicago.
Christian will be a guest speaker at the Mosaic Templars Culture Center and at the museum at Arkansas City. The museum was established in 2004, with Johnson in attendance at its grand opening. For this year’s holiday observance, the museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with an official John H. Johnson Day signing, school participation and student activities, tours and a book presentation by Christian, according to the release.
Barbara Lofton, director of Diversity and Inclusion at Sam M. Walton College of Business (WCOB) at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, will present the John H. Johnson Entrepreneur Award to Eddie and Sherra Armstrong with Cannabis Capital Group.
Hosea Sanders, TV anchor at ABC 7 WLS Chicago, will present the John H. Johnson Journalism and Media Award to Renarda and Helaine Williams with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette newspaper.
Johnson achieved many distinctions throughout his career. He was the recipient of more than 30 honorary doctorate degrees from institutions such as the Carnegie Mellon University, Eastern Michigan University, Harvard University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of Southern California and Wayne State University.
He was inducted into the WCOB’s Arkansas Business Hall of Fame; Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and Illinois Business Hall of Fame. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Harvard University’s Distinguished Service Award; American Advertising Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Horatio Alger Award; and Wall Street Journal Dow Jones Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
An honorary member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Johnson served on numerous boards including: Bell and Howell, Chrysler Corp., Continental Bank, Dial Corp., Dillard’s Inc, Greyhound, Twentieth Century Fox, and Zenith Radio Corp.
Johnson was the first African American to appear on Forbes Magazine’s list of 400 wealthiest Americans, according to the release.
John H. Johnson Day events in Little Rock and Arkansas City are free to the public, however participants must RSVP at Eventbrite.com for the Little Rock celebration due to seating capacity.
Empire: The House That John H. Johnson Built is also available for $25 at Eventbrite.com. Proceeds from the book sales will support John H. Johnson Museum’s programs and John H. Johnson Day, according to the release. Details: www.johnhjohnsonmuseum.org.