Newswire: Former NBA star Junior Bridgeman purchases EBONY magazine

Junior Bridgeman

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The legendary EBONY magazine is being revived.
Former NBA star Junior Bridgeman reportedly has anted-up $14 million for the famed Black media publication.
The magazine, which was founded by John H. Johnson in 1945, was forced into bankruptcy earlier this year after an attempt to revive EBONY failed. EBONY sold its photo archive for $30 million last year, and Willard Jackson briefly took over as CEO but left the company soon after.
“EBONY kind of stood for Black excellence, showing people doing positive things that could benefit everyone,” Bridgeman said, according to Black Enterprise. “It just made you feel good.” Bridgeman has a history of business success, Black Enterprise reported.
As the CEO of Manna Inc., the holding company for his franchise empire of quick-service restaurants, he is a longtime member of the [Black Entreprise] 100s.
According to the Michigan Chronicle, Bridgeman, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, was once featured on a 2016 Forbes top-paid athletes list.
He is the CEO of a Coca-Cola bottling company and part-owner of Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited.
The former athlete attempted to purchase Sports Illustrated in 2018 but eventually withdrew his bid a year later.
According to BlackPast.org, EBONY earned fame by honoring Black identity – portraying Black life, refuting stereotypes, and inspiring readers to overcome racial and other barriers to success. John H. Johnson began his career with Negro Digest in 1942 and started Ebony three years later. Both magazines were so successful that in 1972 the Magazine Publishers Association selected Johnson “Magazine Publisher of the Year.”

EBONY occasionally presented works by well-established literary figures such as Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks.

It also frequently published special issues, such as the 1963 one hundredth year commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation, that highlighted issues deemed particularly relevant to African Americans.

EBONY first featured articles about notable African Americans such as celebrities and sports figures, and during the late 1950s ran Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s column, “Advice for Living By.”

By the 1960s, articles supporting civil rights appeared as the magazine provided reliable coverage of the civil rights movement as it unfolded across the United States.
EBONY also discussed the increasing opportunities for African Americans, suggested ways to overcome obstacles, and encouraged the Black community to exhibit racial pride.
“When you look at EBONY, you look at the history not just for Black people, but of the United States,” Bridgeman said. “I think it’s something that a generation is missing, and we want to bring that back as much as we can.”

Johnson family sells Ebony and Jet magazines

By Keith J. Kelly

Ebony Magazine cover
Ebony, a 1.2 million circulation lifestyle magazine aimed at African-Americans, has been sold by Johnson Publishing to a Texas businessman with backing from a private equity firm, Media Ink has learned.
Austin-based Michael Gibson’s ClearView Partners, with backing from Houston private-equity firm Park View Capital Partners, are the new owners of the 62-year-old monthly. The new company, to be known as Ebony Media Operations, is expected to be chaired by Gibson and have former Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Mayberry McKissack as the new CEO.
“I can confirm that Ebony has been sold,” said Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers. “It allows Johnson Publishing to reduce its debt associated with the media company and focus on growth of its cosmetics business.”
Gibson told Media Ink that current Editor-in-Chief Kierna Mayo will step down and will be replaced in the top spot by Kyra Kyles, who is currently a senior vice president in charge of digital.
Johnson Publishing was founded in Chicago in 1942 by John H. Johnson and his wife Eunice. It is currently headed by his daughter, the company Chairwoman Linda Johnson Rice.
In addition to the divested media operation, the company includes Fashion Fair Cosmetics, which the Johnson family will continue to own.
The company competes head-to -head with Essence, which is owned by Time Inc.
Johnson Publishing has been rapidly down-sizing its operations by over the past five years as it scrambled to keep pace in the rapidly changing media world. It suspended print publication of JET and made it digital-only in 2014.
It also sold its Chicago headquarters building.
DeSilva + Phillips represented the Johnson family in the deal.