For decades, EBONY and Jet magazines were the central publications focusing on the lives of Black Americans, making a path for all the bevy of publications and outlets that cater to that demographic. The vast archive of photos between the two celebrated publications was sold at auction for $30 million and will be given to the Smithsonian Institution.
New York Daily News reports:
Four major foundations, led by J. Paul Getty Trust, will pay $30 million for the photo archives of Ebony and Jet magazines and donate the treasure trove of images to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“This is great news and a relief to the black community,” former Ebony editor-in-chief Harriett Cole told the Daily News
There was concern that by auctioning off Johnson Publishing Company’s storied photo archives, which chronicled 70 years of African-American history, that another black-owned media brand was losing its foothold in black culture.
But Thursday’s announcement means the collection will be in good hands.
Appraised for $46 million in 2015, the four million prints and negatives, include images of iconic figures like Lena Horne, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Michael Jackson. Among the treasured photographs is Moneta Sleet Jr’s Pulitzer Prize winning picture of Coretta Scott King, cradling her daughter at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.
As noted by the outlet, the Johnson Publishing Company was in possession of several iconic photos, including the gripping image of the body of slain teen, Emmett Till among others. The sale of the photo archive goes toward settling the debt of the company which sits around $10 to $50 million according to reports.