Dr. Margena A. Christian, distinguished lecturer in the English department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discusses her book Empire: The House That John H. Johnson Built (The Life & Legacy of Pioneering Publishing Magnate).
African-American stories were overlooked by mainstream media until John H. Johnson showed the world that black lives matter. In his magazines Ebony and Jet, the publisher and businessman presented never-before-told accounts and used captivating, memorable images to share stories of black people.
In Empire, Christian conducts extensive archival research, drawing upon rare sources and a personal decade-long relationship as an employee under the direct tutelage of Johnson. She meticulously constructs the complex story of what made the founder of these magazines become one of history’s greatest publishers and businessmen. The poor boy from Arkansas City, Ark., who picked cotton as a child, advised presidents and civil rights leaders. He went on to become the first black person named to the Forbes 400 richest Americans and amassed an empire, ranging from publishing, cosmetics, travel, radio stations, TV shows, hair care products and the world’s largest traveling fashion show.
Doors to the Reception Hall open at 5:30 p.m., and seating is first come, first served. Books are available for purchase, and the author will autograph books at the conclusion of the program.