Johnson, John Harold, 1918–2005, African-American magazine publisher, b. Arkansas City, Ark. The son of a mill worker, he began his career editing a Chicago insurance company magazine. In 1942 he started Negro Digest, a periodical modeled on Reader's Digest. Encouraged by its success, he founded (1945) Ebony, a large-format magazine covering the life of America's black community, and saw it grow from an initial circulation of 25,000 to 1.6 million in 2004. Johnson, who also published Jet (est. 1951) and other magazines and owned a cosmetics line, was one of the nation's richest and most powerful black business executives.
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