PHOTO: CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS
The publisher of EBONY and JET Magazines expressed her support for marriage equality in a very moving Chicago Tribune op-ed on Valentine’s Day. This was the same day the Illinois Senate approved its marriage bill by a 34-21 vote.
Johnson Publishing Company Chairman Linda Johnson Rice said her support for equality was inspired by her late mother.
When Eunice Johnson set up the first major fashion show for African-American audiences more than 50 years ago, she did so at a time when black Americans, especially black women, were still fighting for a seat at the table, any table. At the same time that white-run shows would get the very latest samples from the biggest fashion houses for free, my mother would pay hand over fist to dress her models. She put up with it because she knew it was important for her charity shows.
She always told me, "Linda, a person should be able to wear anything they want to wear. This is your plumage. This is how you feel about yourself." To my mother, even the worst kinds of unequal and unfair treatment shouldn't keep people from expressing their true colors.
[JET] first featured a same-sex couple in August 2011, then again in March and December of 2012. When the December magazine hit newsstands, I received dozens of calls wondering whether our readers or advertisers protested. You know what? Not one did. They celebrated right along with us because they were celebrating fairness and equality.
Yet if the couples we featured walked into an Illinois courthouse and tried to get a marriage license, they'd be turned away. The same goes for couples in dozens of states. For millions of committed and loving same-sex couples, including African-American couples, fair and equal access to marriage is still a dream. For these couples, they can't show their true colors in the way my mother believed was absolutely essential. It's time to change that.
Mrs. Johnson created the Ebony Fashion Fair, a pioneering and iconic runway show that traveled across the United States from 1958 to 2009. Much more on Mrs. Johnson's legacy to fashion and the civil rights movement in an excellent report by the Wall Street Journal.
JET magazine featured the wedding of Dr. Ravi Perry and Paris Prince in its December 10 JET LOVE series. Rod 2.0 readers will recall the 29-year-old Perry made history in March 2011 when was elected president of the NAACP chapter of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Also worth noting: EBONY profiles Robert Brown and Nathanael Gay in the February 2012 print edition. The video of Brown and Gay's beautiful wedding ceremony—nicknamed the "Kappa Wedding"—went viral across the internet and created some controversy.