Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Karen Miller

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Popular Culture | Cultural History | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology | United States History


black aesthetic, civil rights movement, black journalism, black power


In the fight for justice, equality, and true liberation, African American organizations and institutions have often acted as a voice for the African American community at large focusing on common issues and concerns. With the civil rights movement being broadcast across the world, there was no better time for African American community and civil rights organizations to take a role within the movement in combatting the oppression, racism, and discrimination of white supremacy. Often left out of this history of the civil rights movement is an analysis of black-owned private businesses, also giving shape to the African American community. Black Business as Activism will highlight the contributions that Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) made for the African American community within the mass media in order to explore the ways that mid-twentieth century black-owned commercial businesses contributed to the larger efforts of the civil rights movement. Publishing a widely popular magazine for African Americans in the twentieth century, Ebony, JPC used the medium of print advertising within the media to showcase positive representations of African Americans – uncommon at the time. This piece will analyze the connection that JPC as an organization had with the civil rights movement through its efforts in fighting for the equality and inclusion of African Americans within the field of advertising, as well as its relationship with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization at the forefront of the civil rights movement. This piece will attempt to make the claim that black-owned private businesses should become included alongside community and civil rights organizations to expand our understanding of the civil rights movement.