Eunice Walker Johnson - An African American Businesswoman

15th Oct 2022

Eunice Walker Johnson, an African American Businesswoman, was born April 4, 1916, in Selma, Alabama to Nathaniel Walker, a physician and to Ethel Walker, a high school principal. Johnson graduated in 1938 with a degree in Sociology from Talladega College, a private, liberal arts, historically black college in Talladega, Alabama. She met her husband, John H. Johnson, in 1940 while working on her master's degree at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson founded The Negro Digest in 1942 which was modeled after the magazine Reader's Digest. They then established a monthly magazine entitled Ebony and a weekly magazine known as Jet. These magazines focused on news, African American culture and entertainment. They highlighted the lifestyles and accomplishments of influential black people as it related to fashion, beauty and politics. In 1958, Mrs. Johnson founded and managed Ebony Fashion Fair which initially began as a hospital fundraiser and later became an annual worldwide traveling fashion show for African American women.

Mrs. Johnson's mission was to create a platform that would pave the way for African American designers and models to receive recognition in the fashion industry for their skills, talents and beauty. In the 1960's, Mrs. Johnson demanded from Valentino, an Italian fashion designer, that he incorporate black models in his fashion shows. Mrs. Johnson stated, "If you can't find any black models, we'll get some for you. And if you can't use them, we're not going to buy from you anymore." The power of the African American dollar and Mrs. Johnson's insistence aided the desegregation of the fashion industry. Mrs. Johnson would also start in 1973, Fashion Fair Cosmetics for African American women.