dontate now

Join Email List

Facebook  Become a Fan on Facebook
twitter  Follow Us on Twitter

329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

Search Collections

Personal Report: Johnson Publishing Company

Bookmark and Share
Film Identifier: F.2012-03-0586
Run Time
0h 15m 57s
Date Produced
circa 1963
Episode of the United States Information Agency's television series "Personal Report" about Johnson Publishing Company and Ebony magazine. Inaugurated by U.S.I.A. in 1963, the series projected selected aspects of American culture to a Nigerian television audience and was hosted by Michael Kubeyinje, a Nigerian student in Washington.
After buying a copy of Ebony at a newstand, Howard University student Michael ​Kubeyinje introduces himself as the host of this episode of "Personal Report," which will focus on Johnson Publishing Company, publishers of Tan, Negro Digest, JET, and Ebony.

Kubeyinje first meets with Simeon Booker, the Washington, D.C. bureau chief of the Johnson Publishing Company. Kubeyinje explains Booker's responsibilities, and the film cuts to footage of Booker attending one of John F. Kennedy's press conferences.

Kubeyinje then travels to JPC's headquarters at 1820 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. He meets with JPC founder John H. Johnson in his office, and the history of the business endeavor is explained through voiceover. Kubeyinje explains that, by starting Ebony in 1945, Johnson wanted to show the daily lives of Black Americans: "how he lives and works, how he spends his leisure time." 

The two take a tour of the Chicago headquarters, where they stop to talk with Era Bell Thompson, one of Ebony's managing editors and author of Africa, Land of My Fathers (1954). Continuing their tour of how an issue of Ebony gets published, they meet with Herbert Nipson, Ebony's other managing editor. We are then introduced to writer Lerone Bennett Jr., author of Before the Mayflower (1962) and future writer of Ebony's Black Power column.

Kubeyinje then travels to the set of a photoshoot at Sheraton-Chicago Hotel's swimming pool, where Ebony photographers and journalists are working on a story about Chicago swimming instuctor Jack Hall's method for learning to swim in 20 minutes, inspired by racial disparities in incidences of drowning. Models Margaret Kuykendall, Sonya Holmes and LaDoris Foster are photographed getting lessons from Hall. After a brief scene in a photography studio, Kubeyinje and Johnson travel to the Art Department, where Kubeyinje's voiceover explains Ebony's cover design process.

Kubeyinje then goes to meet with Era Bell Thompson at her Prairie Shores Apartment near E 29th St. and S Martin Luther King Dr. Over tea, Thompson recounts her story of growing up in Iowa to Kubeyinje. She shows him some of the souvenirs and art she has purchased on her many visits to Africa.

Back at the JPC office, Kubeyinje meets with LeRoy Jeffries, vice president of advertising, and Robert Fentress, head of the promotion department. Next we travel to Ebony's test kitchen, where Doris Jamison Robinson heads up the "Date with a Dish" feature. At JPC's reference library, editors fact-check stories. In the subscription department, punchcards are processed by machines and address labels are printed. In the press room, magazines are assembled by giant machinery.
Main Credits
United States Information Agency (corporate name)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Michael Kubeyinje (is commentator)
John H. Johnson (is participant)
Era Bell Thompson (is participant)
Lerone Bennett Jr. (is participant)
Simeon Booker (is participant)
Related Places
Washington DC (represents)
Chicago (represents)