In an effort to save the historic publications, business mogul Mellody Hobson and her husband, Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas, filed a court motion seeking control of the Ebony and Jet archives. It was a just weeks ago that Johnson Publishing Co. (JPC), the owner of the Ebony and Jet archives filed for bankruptcy.
Johnson Publishing Company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this month, putting the magazines’ collection of momentous footage, chronicling more than 70 years of African American life, in jeopardy of being lost forever. As reported by Black Enterprise, The archives include original photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his funeral, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou. It also includes photos taken of Emmett Till’s 1955 funeral along with a host of images published during the civil rights movement.
According to The Journal, JPC used the archives, which had once been appraised at $40 million, as collateral for a $12 million loan that the company received from Capital Holdings V. The loan, however, has been in default for three years, leaving the archives uninsured. As a result, when JPC filed for bankruptcy, the company’s assets were placed in control of a court-appointed trustee.
In an official statement, Capital Holdings said, “We are dedicated to preserving and celebrating stories and storytellers around the world. The Johnson Publishing archives are an essential part of American history and have been critical in telling the extraordinary stories of African American culture for decades. We want to be sure the archives are protected for generations to come.”