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Ebony and Jet magazines' photo archive will go to Smithsonian

The images were purchased by two philanthropic foundations for $30 million in an auction to settle publisher's debts.

 

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The first time Darren Walker was featured in The New York Times two decades ago, his grandmother asked when he would appear in “The Jet.”

“Until you made it in The Jet, you haven’t made it in the African American community,” Walker said. “That story is a metaphor for the reverence and credibility that Ebony and Jet magazines held for decades.”

On Thursday, Walker as president of the Ford Foundation and Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, shepherded a $30 million deal to buy the photo archive of America’s most iconic black magazines. A judge in Chicago approved the sale as part of an auction to pay off secured creditors of the Johnson Publishing Company, which sold the magazines three years ago.

 

Now the owners promise to donate the more than 4 million prints and negatives from Ebony and Jet magazines chronicling African American history to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute.

 

 

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