Nineteen Fifty-Six Vol. 2 No. 3 The Evolution of Black Media

This is the February 2022 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "The Evolution of Black Media" highlights the history and cultural significance of Black magazines.

This is the February 2022 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "The Evolution of Black Media" highlights the history and cultural significance of Black magazines.


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You do matter. <strong>The</strong> numerous achievements and talents<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> students deserve to be recognized. As <strong>of</strong> Fall<br />

2021, 11.16% <strong>of</strong> students on campus identified as <strong>Black</strong> or<br />

African American. <strong>Black</strong> students are disproportionately<br />

underrepresented in various areas on campus. <strong>Nineteen</strong><br />

<strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is a <strong>Black</strong> student-led magazine that amplifies<br />

the voices within the University <strong>of</strong> Alabama’s <strong>Black</strong><br />

community. It also seeks to educate students from all<br />

backgrounds on culturally important issues and topics<br />

in an effort to produce socially-conscious, ethical and<br />

well-rounded citizens.<br />











Tionna Taite<br />

Nickell Grant<br />

Ashton Jah<br />

Tyler Hogan<br />

Madison Davis<br />

Jolencia Jones<br />

Ashlee Woods<br />

Farrah Sanders<br />








Rachel Parker, Lyric<br />

Wisdom<br />

Anaya McCullum, CJ<br />

Thomas, Tonya Williams,<br />

Lyric Wisdom<br />

Karris Harmon, Asia<br />

Smith, Christian Thomas,<br />

Jordan Strawter<br />

Danielle S. McAllister,<br />

Farrah Sanders<br />


<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is published by the Office <strong>of</strong> Student <strong>Media</strong> at <strong>The</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Alabama. All content and<br />

design are produced by students in consultation with pr<strong>of</strong>essional staff advisers. All material contained herein,<br />

except advertising or where indicated otherwise, is copyrighted © 2021 by <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Material<br />

herein may not be reprinted without the expressed, written permission <strong>of</strong> <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Editorial<br />

and Advertising <strong>of</strong>fices for <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> Magazine are located at 414 Campus Drive East, Tuscaloosa, AL<br />

35487. <strong>The</strong> mailing address is P.O. Box 870170, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. Phone: (205) 348-7257.<br />

Pictured in the cover is Jalyn Crosby. Cover photography by Anaya McCullum.<br />



John H. Johnson was the creator <strong>of</strong> the Negro<br />

Digest, Ebony, and JET. His entrepreneurship<br />

inspired much <strong>of</strong> the media scene within the<br />

<strong>Black</strong> community. When he initially had the<br />

idea to create his first publication, the Negro<br />

Digest, he recieved a lot <strong>of</strong> discouragement.<br />

However, his mother believed in him and<br />

allowed him to use her furniture as collateral<br />

for a $500 loan. By having only one person<br />

believe in his vision, Johnson was able to<br />

create the Johnson Publishing Company<br />

along with three <strong>of</strong> the top <strong>Black</strong> magazines<br />

in history.<br />

“<br />

<strong>The</strong><br />

time for a Negro magazine,<br />

the time for a Negro Digest or<br />

an Ebony or JET, had come and<br />

nothing could stop it if-and it’s a<br />

big if – the idea could find a man<br />

or a woman who willing to do<br />

anything or almost anything, to<br />

make the time come.<br />

- John H. Johnson<br />

”<br />


Growing up, I loved reading Ebony, JET,<br />

and Essence. I was always delighted when<br />

the latest edition <strong>of</strong> these magazines were<br />

delivered to my house. While getting my hair<br />

done at the salon, there would <strong>of</strong>ten be stacks<br />

<strong>of</strong> older editions <strong>of</strong> these magazines for me<br />

to read. Truly, these magazines played a big<br />

role in instilling confidence within me as a<br />

young <strong>Black</strong> girl in the South.<br />

I truly love Ebony, JET, and Essence. But<br />

if I had to choose, Ebony magazine would<br />

probably be my favorite. This is because<br />

Ebony paved the way for JET and Essence<br />

magazine. Ebony magazine was one <strong>of</strong><br />

the first publications to display all <strong>of</strong> the<br />

beautiful aspects <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> culture.<br />

For this magazine issue, I wanted to<br />

highlight the history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> media along<br />

with it’s evolution. During <strong>Black</strong> History<br />

Month, I felt it was important to honor <strong>Black</strong><br />

publications such as Ebony, JET, and Essence.<br />

In fact, the front cover <strong>of</strong> this magazine issue<br />

was inspired by Ebony’s vintage covers.<br />

I am excited to present the February 2022<br />

issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> to you all. I<br />

hope this magazine issue inspires you and<br />

educates you about the history and evolution<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> media.<br />


TABLE OF<br />



I MISS YOU, A POEM 13<br />






1956magazine.ua.edu<br />

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April 8!<br />

Visit sheltonstate.edu to apply and register!<br />

It is the policy <strong>of</strong> the Alabama Community College System Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees and Shelton State Community College, a<br />

postsecondary institution under its control, that no person shall, on the grounds <strong>of</strong> race, color, national origin, religion,<br />

marital status, disability, gender, age, or any other protected class as defined by federal and state law, be excluded<br />

from participation, denied benefits, or subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment.


Ebony Magazine was founded by the late John<br />

H. Johnson in 1945. Johnson, a prominent <strong>Black</strong><br />

entrepreneur, developed Ebony with the intent for<br />

the publication to be modeled after Life magazine, but for<br />

a <strong>Black</strong> audience. Under his company, Johnson Publishing,<br />

he envisioned a publication for the <strong>Black</strong> audience that<br />

would fill in the gap <strong>of</strong> coverage from white publications, in<br />

highlighting the achievements and positive news concerning<br />

the <strong>Black</strong> community.<br />

“[Ebony] will try to mirror the happier side <strong>of</strong> Negro life<br />

— the positive, everyday achievements from Harlem to<br />

Hollywood,” Johnson said. “But when we talk about race as<br />

the <strong>No</strong>. 1 problem <strong>of</strong> America, we’ll talk turkey.”<br />

Johnson wanted Ebony to speak frankly about issues <strong>of</strong><br />

race and not pretend that it isn’t an issue and speak to an<br />

audience that was not given the acknowledgement and<br />

understanding <strong>of</strong> their issues as their white counterparts.<br />

Ebony magazine was a welcome addition to the <strong>Black</strong><br />

community, seeing images and ideas that resonated with<br />

many <strong>Black</strong> people gave a positive feeling <strong>of</strong> inclusion. <strong>The</strong><br />

magazine became apart <strong>of</strong> all parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> life as explained<br />

from a 2019 New York Times article stating, “Starved for<br />

affirming images, African-Americans made Ebony and<br />

its sister magazine, Jet, fixtures in homes and businesses<br />

— particularly beauty parlors and barber shops, where<br />

customers typically read while waiting to be served.”<br />

Controlling their own narratives and images was uplifting<br />

and empowering for <strong>Black</strong> people, especially during this<br />

time as the media landscape <strong>of</strong> the white press treated <strong>Black</strong><br />

people as less than or non-existent. <strong>The</strong>ir treatment <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>Black</strong> community can be described as the “degenerating<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> ‘nobodiness,’” coined by <strong>The</strong> Rev Dr. Martin Luther<br />

King Jr. This is a feeling that you do not matter and are<br />

not worthy <strong>of</strong> the respect <strong>of</strong> a title <strong>of</strong> Mr./Mrs., which only<br />

solidified this feeling <strong>of</strong> despair and distrust among the<br />

<strong>Black</strong> community towards the white press.<br />

Johnson sought to change this by being that publication for<br />

his community to trust and enjoy. <strong>The</strong> popularity <strong>of</strong> Ebony<br />

magazine went further than the familiar, positive imagery<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> people as explained by former Johnson Publishing<br />

Company Senior Editor, Dr. Margena A. Christian from a<br />

2019 WGN 9 interview, “Ebony and Jet [were] finding stories<br />

that others had no interest in. We showed the humanity <strong>of</strong><br />

African-Americans, and we were doing more than just trying<br />

to enlighten people, we were working to uplift and empower<br />

them.”<br />

This sentiment is reinforced by a comment in a 2021 NPR<br />

article by Clint Wilson, a journalism pr<strong>of</strong>essor at Howard<br />

University, “If we go back to the founding <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Black</strong> press,<br />

there was a hunger, a thirst to unify as a community.” This<br />

need for unification showcased itself in different ways as<br />

Ebony reframed the relationship between its <strong>Black</strong> readers<br />

with advertisers as well as history.<br />

Johnson’s motive to portray <strong>Black</strong> people in a positive<br />

light began with smiling images <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> women cover<br />

models along with homes <strong>of</strong> middle and upper class <strong>Black</strong><br />

families. This convinced advertisers that including <strong>Black</strong><br />

people in their advertisements would benefit them, by the<br />

1970s’ advertisements for Coca-Cola and Virginia Slims<br />

incorporated <strong>Black</strong> faces.<br />

<strong>The</strong> inclusion <strong>of</strong> history was prominent on the magazine<br />

covers and within the publication during the 1960s’ Civil<br />

Rights Movement with the May 1965 cover featuring Dr.<br />

Martin Luther King Jr. hand in hand with his wife Coretta<br />

Scott King along with 50,000 others as they marched in<br />

Montgomery. Ebony continued to highlight Dr. King’s<br />

journey until his death with his final cover image being<br />

Coretta at his funeral in April 1968. Articles with then<br />

executive editor, Lerone Bennett Jr., penning a column titled,<br />

<strong>Black</strong> Power, gave an in-depth pr<strong>of</strong>ile <strong>of</strong> Stokely Carmichael,<br />

former chairman <strong>of</strong> the Student <strong>No</strong>nviolent Coordinating<br />

Committee (SNCC).<br />

By the 1980s’ Ebony was reaching 40% <strong>of</strong> African American<br />

adults, unmatched by any other general publication. But,<br />

as time went on circulation began to dwindle going from a<br />

monthly print schedule to double issues once each month.<br />

This led into the digital age in 2016 when Johnson Publishing<br />

sold Ebony and Jet to private equity firm CVG Group.<br />

But again, with issues <strong>of</strong> circulation coupled with complaints<br />

<strong>of</strong> unpaid wages, Ebony filed for bankruptcy in 2019. What<br />

may have seemed like a permanent ending, was rewritten<br />

into a new beginning when in December 2020, Ebony was<br />

bought for $14 million by Bridgeman Sports and <strong>Media</strong>,<br />

owned by retired Milwaukee Bucks forward Ulysses “Junior”<br />

Bridgeman.<br />

After a relaunch on March 1, 2021, Ebony returned with a new<br />

mindset and motto, “Moving <strong>Black</strong> Forward.” While being a<br />

digital publication, they are continuing to focus on issues<br />

relevant to their audience now with the promotion <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong><br />

generational wealth. Through highlighting small <strong>Black</strong>owned<br />

businesses in select cities <strong>of</strong> Atlanta and New York<br />


in the form <strong>of</strong> a “block party” streamed on the magazine’s<br />

Youtube channel they are continuing the inclusion and<br />

acknowledgement <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Black</strong> community in areas where<br />

they were being overlooked or forgotten.<br />

Even now by reintroducing themselves to a new generation<br />

<strong>of</strong> readers, the Ebony legacy is still remembered and valued.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> other magazines they’re not geared towards African<br />

Americans, just a general audience ,” UA student Auriel King<br />

said. “You probably won’t see too many [African Americans]<br />

in there. But with Ebony, that’s all that you see, which is<br />

great. So, no matter your shade or size, you’re for sure going<br />

to see someone who looks like you in that magazine because<br />

that’s who they cater to.”<br />

King, a Senior majoring in Human Development and Family<br />

Studies, recalls seeing Ebony magazines around her home as<br />

a child and receiving issues in the mail monthly. <strong>The</strong>ir eyecatching<br />

covers are what she remembers most, showcasing<br />

<strong>Black</strong> entertainers in a glamorous light and allure.<br />

<strong>The</strong> appeal <strong>of</strong> Ebony magazine moving forward are the<br />

plans <strong>of</strong> continuing to incorporate their core audience and<br />

their needs through different mediums. <strong>The</strong>se include the<br />

relaunching <strong>of</strong> Fashion Fair cosmetics and recently the<br />

special limited edition print issue that was released on<br />

February 11th which featured HBCU Stem Queens gracing<br />

the cover.<br />

With such a storied history, Ebony magazine encompasses<br />

the cultural influences and significance <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Black</strong><br />

community. Stepping forward into a new era as stated in<br />

a 2021 Chicago Tribune article by Ebony CEO, Michele<br />

Ghee, “Our commitment is not to any city, but to the <strong>Black</strong><br />

community. “We know who our boss is and our boss is them,<br />

and their opportunity to have the truth. And we want to<br />

provide that.”

THE PATH<br />


STARTS<br />

WITH YOU.<br />

Providing you with tools and<br />

resources to help you monitor and<br />

manage your own mental health.<br />

Download the WellTrack app and<br />

register with your crimson email address.<br />




BEAUTY &<br />



<strong>The</strong> creation and cultivation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> culture is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the most compelling stories <strong>of</strong> our beauty and<br />

resilience in the modern world. An integral piece<br />

<strong>of</strong> this story is the storyteller. <strong>Black</strong> media has evolved<br />

over years while keeping one centralized goal in mind:<br />

“For us, by us.”<br />

Essence magazine has represented <strong>Black</strong> women and their<br />

voices for over 50 years. This award-winning magazine<br />

began as a resource for the <strong>Black</strong> community by placing<br />

fashion, lifestyle, and beauty at the forefront.<br />

<strong>The</strong> idea was birthed in 1968, when Edward Lewis,<br />

Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth and Jonathan<br />

Blount founded Hollingsworth Group. This would later<br />

be named Essence Communications, Inc. Originally titled<br />

“Sapphire Magazine”, the founders aimed to have the title<br />

reflect the gem-like beauty and resilience <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> women.<br />

Luckily, they changed the title after discussions about the<br />

harmful Sapphire stereotype and readers’ likelihood to<br />

associate the magazine with the disrespectful trope.<br />

<strong>The</strong> magazine came about during the era <strong>of</strong> “<strong>Black</strong><br />

capitalism.” <strong>Black</strong> capitalism is a Nixon-era political<br />

movement among African-Americans. This narrative was<br />

built around the idea <strong>of</strong> generational and community<br />

wealth being developed through ownership and<br />

development <strong>of</strong> businesses. Many <strong>Black</strong> media giants were<br />

birthed or rose to new levels <strong>of</strong> prominence because <strong>of</strong><br />

this belief such as <strong>Black</strong> Entertainment Television (BET<br />

for short).<br />

In May <strong>of</strong> 1970, the first issue <strong>of</strong> Essence Magazine was<br />

ready to grace the shelves. According to Lewis and Smith,<br />

the lifestyle publication was supposed to be aimed at<br />

“upscale African-American women”.<br />

For this publication to be successful it needed to be<br />

backed by staff that understood the experience <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong><br />

women. Many figures that supported the magazine’s<br />

humble beginnings had little-to-no prior experience in<br />

publishing and journalism. This includes Susan Taylor.<br />

Taylor caught wind <strong>of</strong> a budding magazine focused on the<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> women and contacted then Editor-<br />

In-Chief Ed Lewis. Taylor had no editorial experience but<br />

was a licensed cosmetologist. At the age <strong>of</strong> 23, she was<br />

hired as Essence’s first ever beauty editor.<br />

<strong>The</strong> monthly magazine saw notable success and by 1975<br />

had amassed around $3.5 million in advertisements. Its<br />

January 1977 issue had about 550,000 issues circulated.

Power struggles between the founders and creative<br />

directors ensued in the mid 1970s. By 1977, Gordon Parks<br />

Sr., creative director for Essence, took legal action. Parks<br />

cited that he was entitled to more creative control and Ed<br />

Lewis was prohibiting other input. Cecil Hollingsworth<br />

and Jonathan Blount, who left over management disputes,<br />

backed Parks push for more executive control. Parks<br />

eventually left the publication.<br />

By 1981, Susan Taylor had been promoted to Editor-In-<br />

Chief with Ed Lewis still presiding as CEO <strong>of</strong> Essence<br />

Communications. Essence’s popularity continued to grow,<br />

only being rivaled by other <strong>Black</strong> focused publications<br />

like Ebony and JET Magazine. <strong>Black</strong> women felt as though<br />

they could relate to the stories as well as the celebrity<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>iles being shared in each issue.<br />

As the era <strong>of</strong> “<strong>Black</strong> capitalism” was seemingly coming<br />

to a close, certain heads <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> media were selling<br />

companies to white-owned companies. Berry Gordy sold<br />

Motown records in the late 80s to a holding company<br />

and Robert Johnson sold BET to Viacom in 2000. In 2005,<br />

Essence sold all <strong>of</strong> its assets to Time, Inc. making it no<br />

longer <strong>Black</strong> owned.<br />

This sparked polarizing opinions. Some applauded<br />

Lewis for creating the amount <strong>of</strong> revenue he did, citing<br />

him as a shining example <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> capitalism’s ability to<br />

bring pr<strong>of</strong>it to our community. Others cited the irony <strong>of</strong><br />

basing his success in capitalism while he pr<strong>of</strong>its <strong>of</strong>f <strong>of</strong> the<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> women, only to sell the company and<br />

ostracize <strong>Black</strong> women further.<br />

Essence continued to produce issues and events focused<br />

on <strong>Black</strong> women. This includes the continuation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Essence Music Festival, which started in 1995.<br />

In 2017, Time Inc. decided to sell Essence Communications<br />

Inc. to Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis.<br />

Dennis launched Essence Ventures, LLC. to handle the<br />

continuation <strong>of</strong> the magazine. Essence magazine was<br />

<strong>Black</strong> owned again and still is as <strong>of</strong> today. Chief Content<br />

Officer Derek T. Dingle labeled the transaction as<br />

“groundbreaking” and added that this is an example <strong>of</strong><br />

how African-American entrepreneurs “can execute with<br />

vision and wherewithal to return valuable institutions to<br />

African American ownership.”<br />

Currently, Essence still rests as a cornerstone <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong><br />

media. Erykah Murray, a recent graduate <strong>of</strong> UA, remembers<br />

having Essence delivered to her house growing up.<br />

“It was a cool thing growing up and seeing women that<br />

look like me on the cover <strong>of</strong> magazines. <strong>No</strong>w I’m older and<br />

I’m planning to go to the Essence Festival,” said Murray.<br />

“I’ve heard about [the festival] so much, I just needed<br />

to experience it and I’m excited to see <strong>Black</strong> beauty,<br />

excellence, food, music—all <strong>of</strong> it really.”<br />

Essence came from humble beginnings, developed a deep<br />

history, and established a strong relationship with the<br />

<strong>Black</strong> community. It serves as a long-standing reminder<br />

that <strong>Black</strong> women and their voices matter.<br />



I Miss You<br />

We lost time and space<br />

I let you go,<br />

You let me fly free<br />

Maybe one day we’ll see<br />

But right now,<br />

It’s just me<br />

Though I don’t feel peace,<br />

I feel you in the breeze<br />



<strong>The</strong> journey <strong>of</strong> becoming a transgender or gender<br />

non-conforming individual is difficult, especially<br />

for <strong>Black</strong> individuals.<br />

For many that have transitioned, what they knew about<br />

transgender or gender non-conforming people along with<br />

how they were viewed by society came from depictions<br />

<strong>of</strong> them in the media. <strong>The</strong> caricature <strong>of</strong> these groups <strong>of</strong><br />

people combined with the demonizing <strong>of</strong> them in media<br />

affected the ability for transgender people to accurately<br />

tell their stories.<br />

In the Netflix original documentary, Disclosure, the long<br />

history <strong>of</strong> transgender misrepresentation and the fight<br />

for change is addressed.<br />

On Oct. 27, 2021, the University <strong>of</strong> Alabama’s Women and<br />

Gender Resource Center (WGRC) held a screening <strong>of</strong><br />

Disclosure, followed by a Q&A session with guests from<br />

the Birmingham AIDS Outreach organization. Program<br />

coordinator Elizabeth Lester talked to attendees over<br />

zoom about the importance <strong>of</strong> having this event.<br />


Lester wanted to bring in people from these respective<br />

communities to share their stories. <strong>The</strong> guests from the<br />

Birmingham AIDS outreach organization were Sinseriti<br />

Banks and Lauren Jacobs <strong>of</strong> the Magic City Acceptance<br />

Center.<br />

“October is LGBTQ History Month, and I knew that I<br />

wanted to do a program that raised awareness around<br />

trans and non-binary representation,” Lester said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> documentary delves into the long history <strong>of</strong><br />

misrepresentation <strong>of</strong> transgender and gender nonconforming<br />

people in media. A central theme discussed<br />

in the documentary was the mystifying <strong>of</strong> transgender<br />

people.<br />

“I think, for a very long time the ways in which trans<br />

people have been represented on-screen have suggested<br />

that we’re not real, have suggested that we’re mentally ill,<br />

that we don’t exist,” actress Laverne Cox said.<br />

Creating mystery around who transgender people really<br />

are allows the media to play on the fear this mystery can<br />

bring. Within this fear, inaccurate characterizations <strong>of</strong><br />

transgender people begin to exist.<br />

<strong>The</strong> silent film, A Florida Enchantment is one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

prominent examples. In this film, the female character<br />

takes a pill that turns her into a man. Her housemaid takes<br />

that same pill. What is different is how each character is<br />

depicted after transitioning to a man. <strong>The</strong> housemaid, a<br />

white male wearing blackface, is an angry, monstrous and<br />

vengeful <strong>Black</strong> person. <strong>The</strong> white female becomes the<br />

image <strong>of</strong> what a man should become in society. <strong>The</strong> roots<br />

<strong>of</strong> misrepresentation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> transgender people lie in<br />

racism.<br />

Films like A Florida Enchantment depicts transgender<br />

people—especially ones <strong>of</strong> color—as violent people<br />

incapable <strong>of</strong> emotion, effectively dehumanizing them.<br />

<strong>The</strong> dehumanization <strong>of</strong> people in this community has<br />

allowed the media to create feelings <strong>of</strong> fear towards trans<br />

people, especially trans people <strong>of</strong> color.<br />

When transgender people aren’t the villain, they are<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten depicted as outcasts or odditities that don’t belong<br />

in society. Because <strong>of</strong> this, transgender people become<br />

the butt <strong>of</strong> several jokes. Guest speaker Sinseriti Banks<br />

discussed the pain this can bring during the Q&A section<br />

<strong>of</strong> the event.<br />

“It hurts,” Banks said. “You always stick out like a sore<br />

thumb, you’re the topic <strong>of</strong> the conversation, sometimes<br />

the butt <strong>of</strong> the joke.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> act <strong>of</strong> mischaracterization doesn’t start and end<br />

with transgender people. As the documentary points<br />

out, the film industry has a history <strong>of</strong> dehumanizing<br />

<strong>Black</strong> men. <strong>The</strong>se jokes <strong>of</strong>ten depict <strong>Black</strong> men as either<br />

hypermasculine or overly feminine. <strong>No</strong> nuance or depth<br />

are given to these characters and the majority white<br />

audiences enjoying these shows or movies no longer have<br />

fear <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> men.<br />

In the 1989 film Glory, a <strong>Black</strong> soldier raises his hand at a<br />

white woman with no regard to her life while storming<br />

the town <strong>of</strong> Darien, Georgia. In the scene, Colonel James<br />

Montgomery refers to his unit as “little monkey children”<br />

that need to be controlled.<br />

“Stop treating us like we’re animals at a zoo or we’re dogs<br />

at the Humane Society that you have never seen before,”<br />

Sinseriti Banks challenges. “We’re human.”<br />

While this is a historical nonfiction movie, the idea<br />

<strong>of</strong> hypermasculine <strong>Black</strong> men is still prevalent. <strong>The</strong><br />

colonel—a white male—sees himself as the owner <strong>of</strong><br />

the men in his regiment. Throughout the long history<br />

<strong>of</strong> the media, white people are controlling their <strong>Black</strong><br />

counterparts. <strong>Black</strong> and transgender people can only be<br />

what their white counterparts view them as. In the media,<br />

minority groups <strong>of</strong>ten have no control over their identity.<br />

It doesn’t stop at the hypermasculinity <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> men,<br />

either.<br />

In comedy, it’s common for men and women to dress up as<br />

outlandish characters for sketches. <strong>The</strong> problem with this<br />

is that most <strong>of</strong> these characters are <strong>Black</strong> women depicted<br />

by <strong>Black</strong> men.<br />

In the hit comedy sketch show In Living Color, actor Jamie<br />

Foxx <strong>of</strong>ten played Wanda Wayne in sketches. Wayne—a<br />

loud, brash and <strong>of</strong>ten aggressive <strong>Black</strong> woman—was<br />


a crowd favorite. Foxx wore bright colored dresses,<br />

blonde and curly wigs and bold makeup <strong>of</strong>ten.<br />

To most <strong>of</strong> the audiences viewing the show, Foxx was<br />

just playing a go<strong>of</strong>y character. But to others, Wanda<br />

Wayne was a dark reminder <strong>of</strong> how society viewed <strong>Black</strong><br />

women.<br />

“If I’m not laughing, is it a joke, you know,” Writer Tiq<br />

Milan said in the film. “It [transgender jokes] lends<br />

itself to this idea that we’re just comedy, that we’re just<br />

some kind <strong>of</strong> freaks, that we just playin’ dress up in<br />

order to make other people laugh.”<br />

Comedians dressing up as women and making<br />

lighthearted jokes about real issues the transgender<br />

community faces further distorts the stories <strong>of</strong><br />

transgender people. <strong>The</strong>se jokes makes transgender<br />

people feel seen but misunderstood.<br />

Disclosure provided attendees with a deeper<br />

understanding <strong>of</strong> the history <strong>of</strong> transgender people in<br />

media. After the film, both Lauren Jacobs and Sinseriti<br />

Banks had thoughts they wanted to leave the attendees<br />

with. Jacobs talks about the influence Alabama has in<br />

this movement.<br />

“I love any moment that proves to people that, as<br />

Alabama, we are part <strong>of</strong> this conversation, we have<br />

always been a part <strong>of</strong> this conversation, we have always<br />

had our own queer and trans history, it’s just that<br />

people don’t <strong>of</strong>ten pay attention,” Jacobs said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> job for cisgendered people now is to start paying<br />

more attention to how they view and depict transgender<br />

people, especially those <strong>of</strong> color. Understanding the<br />

impact the media has is a step in the right direction. It<br />

must be followed by a change <strong>of</strong> heart.


JET<br />


JET<br />




Picture yourself walking into a <strong>Black</strong>-owned beauty<br />

salon in the mid-2000s. <strong>The</strong> smell <strong>of</strong> Blue Magic<br />

grease and hot combs are a welcoming scent. You<br />

sit in the waiting area, thinking about how sore your scalp<br />

may be after this. <strong>The</strong>n you picture your freshly done hair<br />

and remember that it’ll all be worth it. As you wait for a<br />

chair to free up, you peer down at the stack <strong>of</strong> magazines<br />

in front <strong>of</strong> you. To your surprise, JET Magazine has a new<br />

issue out. You pick it up and can’t wait to flip through<br />

each page.<br />

This level <strong>of</strong> anticipation for JET Magazine was and still<br />

is felt by readers for 70 years now. Armyll Smith recalls<br />

having the magazine as a c<strong>of</strong>fee table staple in their youth.<br />

“I remember it was so cool to look at growing up. Maybe<br />

I didn’t understand some <strong>of</strong> the news because I was so<br />

young but the culture. <strong>The</strong> culture carried. I wanted the<br />

hairstyles, the clothes; I wanted to order the CDs they<br />

recommended. It was a whole movement,” Smith said.<br />

To look back at its genesis is to realize how monumental<br />

a magazine like this was. JET Magazine began publishing<br />

in 1952 under John H. Johnson’s publishing company.<br />

Johnson is considered a legend in paving the way for<br />

<strong>Black</strong> media.<br />

“It’s impossible to overstate the significance <strong>of</strong> Johnson<br />

publications in telling the story <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> America,” said<br />

Donovan X. Ramsey, head <strong>of</strong> the Instagram account @<br />

blackmagcovers.<br />

JET marketed itself as the “Weekly Negro News<br />

Magazine”, covering the quickly unfolding Civil Rights<br />

Movement. <strong>The</strong> name “JET” stuck with Johnson because<br />

he wanted it to symbolize “<strong>Black</strong> and speed”. He cited<br />

that news moved so quickly. <strong>The</strong> publication’s aim was to<br />

provide “news coverage on happenings among Negroes<br />

all over the U.S.—in entertainment, politics, sports, social<br />

events as well as features on unusual personalities, places<br />

and events.”<br />

JET garnered national attention with its coverage <strong>of</strong><br />

Emmett Till’s murder. Images <strong>of</strong> the teenager’s brutalized<br />

body as he lay in his casket circulated throughout the<br />

nation by way <strong>of</strong> JET. This contributed to bringing<br />

national attention to the violence <strong>of</strong> the Jim Crow South<br />

which propelled the growing Civil Rights Movement<br />

forward.<br />

Taking their growing audience into consideration, JET<br />

continued to cover the Civil Rights Movement as well<br />

as other social justice movements. From 1970-1975, JET<br />

gave physicians the platform to discuss scientific facts<br />

surrounding abortion and reproductive rights.<br />

<strong>The</strong> magazine covered news on happenings among<br />

African-Americans all over the U.S.—in entertainment,<br />

politics, sports, social events as well as features on unusual<br />

personalities, places and events. Celebrities and notable<br />

figures graced the <strong>Black</strong> and white covers.<br />

JET also became well known for its centerfold feature,<br />

“JET Beauty <strong>of</strong> the Week.” Polarizing to say the least, JET<br />

Beauty <strong>of</strong> the Week has been a centerpiece <strong>of</strong> the magazine<br />

since its inception. Each issue featured a beautiful <strong>Black</strong><br />

woman and a short bio about herself. <strong>The</strong>se women had<br />

ranging career paths such as beauty consultants, college<br />

students, aspiring politicians, and musicians.<br />


JETSome<br />

<strong>Black</strong> women who gained success later in life<br />

credited the centerfold piece as their start, from the<br />

likes <strong>of</strong> television beauty Willona Woods to Blaxpoitation<br />

icon Pam Grier.<br />

<strong>No</strong>liwe M. Rooks believes that the platform “brought<br />

<strong>Black</strong> female bodies into the mainstream” and<br />

challenged beauty standards set by mainly white pinup<br />

girls at the time.<br />

Others criticized JET’s depiction <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> women.<br />

Beauties <strong>of</strong> the Week were largely photographed in<br />

bathing suits from 1959-1993. <strong>The</strong>se centerfold features<br />

were accompanied by a bio <strong>of</strong> the Beauty and her body<br />

measurements. Critics grew concerned citing the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> beauty being visible but not being<br />

based on objectification.<br />

JET also came under fire along with the popular Essence<br />

magazine for promoting colorist ideals. A 1955 issue<br />

included an advertisement for Nadinola, a bleaching<br />

cream. <strong>The</strong> ad depicted a light-skinned woman as the<br />

center <strong>of</strong> men’s attention.<br />

In a study conducted by Vanessa Hazell and Juanne<br />

Clarke, it was concluded that JET and Essence magazine<br />

between 2003 and 2004 still allowed Eurocentric and<br />

white standards <strong>of</strong> beauty to be promoted through<br />

their hair care ads. Many <strong>of</strong> these companies featured<br />

models that were either white or adhering closely to<br />

white standards <strong>of</strong> beauty.<br />

In June 2014, JET released its last physical issue, opting<br />

to move to fully digital. Two years later, Johnson<br />

Publishing sold JET and its sister magazine Ebony.<br />

Clear View Group, a Texas-based and <strong>Black</strong>-owned<br />

equity firm, still owns both publications in 2022.<br />

In 2021, Michele Ghee was appointed CEO <strong>of</strong> JET &<br />

Ebony. In a Los Angeles Times feature, Ghee recalls the<br />

lasting legacy <strong>of</strong> the brands and how instrumental they<br />

were in the creation <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Black</strong> media blueprint. Ghee<br />

plans to bring the publications back into their former<br />

glory by tying on tried-and-true ways to new solutions.<br />

Today JET can still be found on jetmag.com, producing<br />

content for us and by us.<br />

JET magazine has cemented its place in the history<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Black</strong> media as an influential giant. It gave voices<br />

to artists that the industry forgot and news that the<br />

mainstream ignored. With its many supporters and<br />

creative staffing, hopefully we see the magazine fully<br />

restored to its former glory: “<strong>Black</strong> like it never left.”



FROM<br />

ALUMNI<br />

21<br />

+<br />








am writing this letter to pass on some advice that<br />

I will, hopefully, help you successfully navigate undergraduate<br />

life at the University <strong>of</strong> Alabama. <strong>The</strong><br />

points I will touch on are based on advice I wish<br />

someone had given me prior to the fall <strong>of</strong> 1977 entering<br />

my freshman year. <strong>The</strong>re are so many topics that<br />

come to mind but I’ll stick to the ones below.<br />


An impressive GPA is the first indicator <strong>of</strong> a strong work<br />

ethic. Also, your GPA is usually one the first things future<br />

employers take note <strong>of</strong> to determine your potential for<br />

success in their organization. <strong>The</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Alabama<br />

will challenge you academically and it doesn’t get easy<br />

as you advance from your freshman to your senior year.<br />

At times it may feel like you’re in the ring with three<br />

heavyweight boxing champs at the same time just trying<br />

to survive. But the strength <strong>of</strong> will and determination to<br />

stay up late at night and work on weekends to complete<br />

assigned tasks will serve you well as an undergraduate<br />

and in your pr<strong>of</strong>essional career. Work hard and surround<br />

yourself with high achievers. <strong>The</strong>re are a number <strong>of</strong><br />

academic support resources available at the university.<br />

Seek them out and utilize them to the fullest. Make it<br />

a goal to become a permanent fixture on the Dean’s List.<br />



Don’t hesitate to get involved. Join a fraternity or sorority,<br />

sing in the choir, join the BSU, or any <strong>of</strong> the many other<br />

organizations on campus. This is an opportunity to be a<br />

part <strong>of</strong> a group and develop as a leader. As you advance<br />

academically and pr<strong>of</strong>essionally you will be asked to<br />

participate in groups to solve problems and/or reach a<br />

common goal. Gaining this experience early in your<br />

academic career will arm you with the skills needed to be a<br />

contributing member <strong>of</strong> the group and take on leadership<br />

roles in any academic setting or organization. Some may<br />

say this is too much to take on and maintain a high GPA.<br />

But believe me you can do it by setting achievable goals<br />

for yourselves and holding yourselves accountable for<br />

accomplishing your goals. Later in your pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

lives the ability to multi-task under pressure will serve<br />

you well. So don’t shy away from these challenges during<br />

your undergraduate years. Embrace them and grow from<br />

the experiences.<br />


In my pr<strong>of</strong>essional career mentors were responsible for<br />

my greatest career advances. I was extremely shy as a<br />

younger man so seasoned leaders took me under their<br />


wings to ensure my success. I would advise you to be more<br />

assertive and aggressive to ensure your academic success.<br />

You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start the<br />

mentoring process. Start now by surrounding yourselves<br />

with high performing achievers in your peer group,<br />

upperclassmen and alumni. Seek out those who have<br />

walked the path you are now following to gain insight on<br />

what will make you successful and the pitfalls to avoid.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are resources on campus that support mentoring<br />

so explore those avenues. Also, I know there are many<br />

alums who would be more than willing to mentor young<br />

students. <strong>The</strong> roadblocks you are experiencing now are<br />

not new. <strong>The</strong>y have frustrated others. Don’t hesitate to<br />

seek guidance from others who previously overcame the<br />

challenges facing you now.<br />

This is the advice I wish I had received prior to my freshman<br />

year. Although I had a successful career, I could have<br />

achieved a lot more both academically and pr<strong>of</strong>essionally<br />

had I applied myself more while an undergraduate at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Alabama. Good luck and Roll Tide.<br />

Cordially,<br />

Greg Floyd<br />

Class <strong>of</strong> 1981<br />




As an educator in the state <strong>of</strong> Alabama we are<br />

blessed to be a part <strong>of</strong> the Teachers Retirement<br />

System. We pay into our retirement plan and if<br />

we switch schools or go into another school system the<br />

money that we have put into our retirement plan stays<br />

with us. Most job fields do not provide a benefit as nice as<br />

that. <strong>The</strong>y do, however, <strong>of</strong>fer some form <strong>of</strong> a retirement<br />

plan with different option and though I cannot suggest<br />

you stay at a job long enough to be fully vested or reap<br />

the benefits that they may <strong>of</strong>fer I do highly suggest as a<br />

newly young eager employee that you do your research on<br />

retirement planning and not put it <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

I know at this age; retirement is not at the forefront <strong>of</strong><br />

your mind but, time is your best friend when it comes<br />

to saving for your retirement. CNBC did a case study for<br />

people who start saving for retirement at age 20.<br />

Investing $100 per month will grow to more than<br />

$160,000 when you are ready to retire in 47 years. At $500<br />

a month, the same 20-year-old would retire with more<br />

than $800,000 if they stuck to their saving. If you bump<br />

that number up to $1,000 per month, your total will grow<br />

to over $1.6 million for retirement.<br />

$1.6 million dollar sounds nice, and you have the<br />

opportunity right now to really set yourself up for a more<br />

comfortable life when you get older. Allowing you to<br />

not be forced to work so hard in your golden years. Take<br />

control now so you can have control later. See the big<br />

picture and Good Luck!<br />

Larron White<br />

Class <strong>of</strong> 1997<br />



A<br />

s<br />

I reflect upon my life, here are three things I wish<br />

I had been given at 22 years old.<br />

• Mistakes are good<br />

• Know and understand yourself<br />

• Life is an obstacle course<br />

Elbert Hubbard stated, “<strong>The</strong> greatest mistake a man<br />

can make is being afraid <strong>of</strong> making one.” Mistakes in<br />

life are lessons that provide you with opportunities for<br />

personal growth and insight. In fact, I believe the keys to<br />

a successful life must include your ability to learn from<br />

your own mistakes and those <strong>of</strong> others. To do this you<br />

must be willing to reflect <strong>of</strong>ten on your mishaps. Think<br />

to yourself, what can I do differently next time? You need<br />

to relive your experiences, not to shame yourself, but<br />

as a way to avoid repeating them. Remember, you will<br />

not always make the right decisions in your life, but you<br />

should always make the best decisions based on what you<br />

know and understand at the moment. Growth is on the<br />

other side <strong>of</strong> your fear <strong>of</strong> failure.<br />

Self-awareness is a must while going through life.<br />

Develop the ability to understand and articulate those<br />

things you will not tolerate. As the saying goes “If you<br />

don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”<br />

Whereas knowledge will only take you so far, genuineness<br />

and sincerity are character traits that will win people<br />

over when it counts the most. Society can be cruel but<br />

remain true to yourself. Whenever you find yourself in<br />

a situation where people do not have your best interest<br />

in mind, be willing to cut ties and move on. You may ask,<br />

how do I discern the intentions <strong>of</strong> others? Just listen!<br />

You are more in tune than you think.<br />

Life is an obstacle course. It’s filled with hurdles and<br />

challenges designed to impede your progress. You will<br />

be tested by employers, colleagues, and friends who,<br />

at times, will cause you to question everything about<br />

yourself. <strong>The</strong>se experiences will make you stronger<br />

when you are able to forgive, learn from them, and move<br />

forward. Enjoy the special times you experience in each<br />

<strong>of</strong> your relationships with people that matter. Even<br />

though financial hardships or a divorce, put God first<br />

and learn from the experience. Fortunately, you have the<br />

choice to view every experience in life either negatively<br />

or positively. I urge you to look at the positive with the<br />

foresight that life is an obstacle course.<br />

In closing, learn from your mistakes, live your life and be<br />

a testimony for others, and treat everyone with respect<br />

and dignity. By doing these things, you will be successful<br />

in life.<br />

Regards,<br />

Dr. Terry Lamar<br />

Director <strong>of</strong> Equity and Educational Initiatives,<br />

Hoover City Schools<br />





Navigating college can be an overwhelming and<br />

very involved experience for any student. Even<br />

with the challenges you may encounter, it can<br />

also be the greatest and most rewarding time <strong>of</strong> your<br />

young adulthood.<br />

As an African American student at a predominately white<br />

institution, the challenge may seem to be even greater. As<br />

a new student on campus, I must admit it was a culture<br />

shock for me. Coming from a school system that was<br />

predominantly black, it was an adjustment coming from<br />

where you were in the overwhelming majority to a setting<br />

where you are a minority. With the culture shock, it was<br />

easy to become overwhelmed with the size and scope <strong>of</strong><br />

my new surroundings and fall behind.<br />

As new and continuing students, the following points <strong>of</strong><br />

advice can place you on the path in making the most <strong>of</strong><br />

the collegiate experience.<br />


Don’t go through your college experience on cruise<br />

control, if you are struggling academically, mentally, or<br />

any way please seek resources that are available to you to<br />

keep you on your path to success.<br />



TOO THIN.<br />

You may have the urge to get involved everywhere and in<br />

everything at Get on Board Day, but don’t let your over<br />

eagerness consume and drown you. Try to focus on what<br />

gives you the best opportunities to do good and effect at<br />

least a little change in your corner <strong>of</strong> the earth.<br />


Nurture relationships with those who encourage you,<br />

challenge you and bring out the best you and reciprocate.<br />

In the bustle <strong>of</strong> college life, it is easy to neglect these<br />

connections and take them for granted. Take a moment to<br />

slow down and experience the fullness <strong>of</strong> those positive<br />

relationships.<br />


ENJOY!<br />

You are here to gain an education, but you are also here to<br />

experience your first taste <strong>of</strong> adulthood and prepare your<br />

minds to navigate an increasingly competitive world.<br />

You are the dreams and legacy <strong>of</strong> Pollie, Autherine, Vivian<br />

and James; you are the embodiment <strong>of</strong> their sacrifice. So,<br />

take care <strong>of</strong> yourself so you may lift the students who<br />

follow you and be a shining example to them continue<br />

this rich and powerful legacy.<br />

Prince<br />

Cleaveland<br />

Class <strong>of</strong> 2003



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