Jet magazine helped chronicle civil rights history for black America

05/08/2014 11:46 AM

05/10/2014 5:34 PM

Jet magazine sadly announced that it is ceasing its weekly print publication and going to a digital magazine app.

Johnson Publishing Co. owns Jet and Ebony magazines. The publications for decades have been mainstays in African American homes on living room coffee tables, barbershops, beauty salons and other businesses throughout black America.

Jet, which started in November 1951 as a newsweekly digest for African Americans, was well-known for keeping people informed during seminal civil rights events. That included carrying pictures of Emmett Till’s open casket at his funeral in Chicago. The 14-year-old was brutally murdered in August 1955 in Money, Miss., for whistling at a white woman while he was visiting relatives in that small town.

The national publicity, which Jet magazine helped provide on the slaying and lack of justice for African Americans, became a catalyst for the start of the civil rights movement. It helped inspire Rosa Parks in December 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., to refuse to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man.

That started the Montgomery bus boycott led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Its success and black unity led to many civil rights gains, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Reading Jet on an app just won’t be the same as the pass-around value the magazine once had in the black community nationwide.

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