Ebony Magazine Ousts CEO Willard Jackson Jr. Amid Investigation

Ebony Logo and Willard Jackson (Credit: Ebony.com)

Ebony has announced a leadership change amid an inquiry into questionable “transactions.”

The magazine’s board of directors agreed to remove CEO Willard Jackson Jr. on July 2,  Ebony said in a press release on Sunday. The leadership change came after the board commissioned an independent inquiry a few weeks ago “into a number of transactions led by Mr. Jackson,” according to the release.

“The board of directors individually and collectively understands the legacy and value of Ebony to Black communities globally,” said Jacob Walthour Jr., newly elected chairman of Ebony’s board of directors and co-founder of Blueprint Capital Advisors, a black-owned asset manager. “Founder John H. Johnson conducted himself and Ebony business with a level of class, integrity and honor that has come to define Black professionalism in America. While the board expects that Ebony will always need to adapt its business model to stay relevant, it must never compromise the core values of Mr. Johnson.”

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The board will appoint an interim CEO and operating committee while the investigation continues. The magazine also said executives plan to make it a priority to pay “delinquent compensation to Ebony employees.”

“As we approach Ebony’s 75th anniversary, now more than any other time since the Civil Rights movement, Black people need a medium to express ‘their’ voice and record this historical moment,” said John C. Robinson, an Ebony director. “We are committed to the preservation of this valuable asset to the Black community and being a part of the next 75 years.”

The iconic publication, which was at one time required reading in many African-American homes, has been besieged by financial problems, money disputes and layoffs.

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As Urban Hollywood 411 previously reported in April 2020, Ebony‘s website had disappeared from the internet. At the time, a message on Ebony.com said: “The site you were looking for couldn’t be found.” But on Sunday, the website was back online and filled with content relevant to the Black community.

News of this latest saga in Ebony‘s history came just days after the CEO of Essence — another iconic publication focusing to the Black community — stepped down after a group of anonymous staffers posted a letter online complaining of a “poisonous culture” at the magazine

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