Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eunice Johnson - In Memoriam

Eunice Johnson, the widow of Ebony magazine founder John Johnson died at her Chicago home on January 3, 2010.

Her "Ebony Fashion Fair" was a household name with African Americans everywhere - long before we were called African Americans and even before we were called Black Americans. In fact, when Ms. Johnson started the fashion show, we were still being referred to as Negroes.

The year was 1961. And this high energy fashion show featured black designers and models in almost 200 cities each year.

I was 18 when I attended my first Fashion Fair and I remember thinking, "I too can be a model." I had always seen models who looked nothing like me in "Seventeen" and "Glamour" magazine and to see these caramel, tan and chestnut sisters (and brothers) walk the runway, made me so proud - and hopeful. Just like reading Ebony and Jet magazine. I could relate. I can still feel the excitement at the Paramount Theater in Oakland when those shows came around every year. It was "the" ticket to "the" event of the year.

She also developed, along with her late husband, Fashion Fair Cosmetics (my first makeup) which was designed specifically for women of color. It had pretty pink packaging and lipstick colors like Mahogany.

She was a secretary-treasurer of Johnson Publishing, which produces JET and Ebony, two of the longest-running black-oriented magazines in the country.

Those left to mourn her passing and celebrate her amazing legacy, include her daughter, Linda Johnson Rice.

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