Crusader Staff Report
Former Johnson Publishing Company Chairman, Linda Johnson Rice on September 26, closed the final chapter in her father’s iconic institution and resigned from the board of the company that produces Ebony and Jet magazines.
Rice’s resignation from the Ebony Media Board came a day before seven writers filed a lawsuit claiming Ebony owed them $33,000 for articles. They were laid off in June.
According to the Sun-Times, Johnson Rice wrote a letter addressed to the co-founders of the Austin, Texas-based Clear View Group LLC, (CVG) which bought Ebony and Jet from Johnson Publishing in 2016.
In the letter, Rice said she was “disappointed” in the firm’s operation.
“After considerable thought, I have decided to step back from my duties as Chairman Emeritus and from the board of Ebony Media Operations and Ebony Media Holdings LLC, respectively and immediately.”
“This decision did not come easily,” Rice said in the letter. “When I agreed to continue on with the companies after the sale to CVG Group, I did so hopeful that the Ebony and Jet brands would continue to be a dominant and positive force in the African American community.”
“Obviously, despite my hopes, the last three years did not result in what I envisioned when the transition occurred, and because of that, I have made the decision to move on.”
The move severs the last ties to Johnson Publishing for Rice, whose company was to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April after years of decline.
By that time, Johnson Publishing no longer had its iconic headquarters on Michigan Avenue and had sold the Ebony and Jet publications. Promises to revive the Ebony Fashion Fair show were never fulfilled. The company was a shell of itself as it was left with only its struggling Fashion Fair Cosmetics line.
Earlier this year, Rice put the family’s longtime sprawling mansion overlooking Palm Springs on the market.
In July, Johnson Publishing sold its extensive photo archives collection for $30 million to a group of foundations that donated it to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other cultural institutions. An auction is planned next month for its iconic cosmetics line for Black women.
Despite their lack of publishing experience, hopes grew in 2016 when the Clear View Group purchased Ebony and Jet and created Ebony Media. The following year, 45 freelance writers sued the company for $80,000 for work done when the publications were owned by Johnson Publishing. Ebony signed an agreement but missed a payment months later.
In June, several reports say that Ebony Media laid off its final staff members after failing to make payroll. There were also reports that Ebony Media ran out of money to produce print editions of Ebony magazine, which had not been on store shelves since the spring.