words by: Jinny Lin
The publisher for Ebony Magzine, a publication that provided a platform for people of color, filed for bankruptcy in April. Soon after, Ebony Magazine’s archive of over four million photos went up for auction. That called into question where the photos would be going.
Because these photos documented multiple perspectives of people of color throughout history, this archive is immensely valuable. It would be a shame if those four million stories were lost. Therefore, the public feared that it would fall into the hands of a private collector, never to see the light of day again.
The general consensus was that this situation shouldn’t happen. Lonnie Bunch and James Cuno sum up our feelings on the situation in these statements. “Ebony and Jet Magazine helped shape our nation’s history, allowing Americans — of all colors — to see the full panorama of the African American experience,” said Bunch, Smithsonian Secretary and founding director of the African American Museum
Cuno, President of The J. Paul Getty Trust, added, “there is no greater repository of the history of the modern African-American experience than this archive.”
The archive was recently sold to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for $30 million. When it was announced that they would donate all the photos to museums, the public was finally relieved because it meant that the general public would have access to all of the archives. Now we can enjoy the timeless photos for years to come. The decades of African American history captured in these photos can live on.