Former Ebony publishing company is auctioning off its historic photo archive, containing more than 4 million photos, to pay its creditors | CNN

CNN – Ebony and Jet magazines were once pinnacles of black American culture. Their photographs were windows into intimate moments of black celebrities, and they were known for their everyday depictions of middle class black life, especially Ebony magazine.

“It was Ebony that took to remind America of black people’s humanity,” said Jeffrey McCune, a professor of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. “It colored black life in spectrum.”

A significant portion of that legacy is changing. Both Jet and Ebony still exist, though only Ebony continues to produce a print product. But their former parent company and owners of the photo archive, Johnson Publishing, filed for bankruptcy in April.

Now, the historic archive will be up for auction on July 17, with the dues going toward the creditors of Johnson Publishing.