The Negro Digest: The Black Reader’s Digest of Its Day

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Negro Digest

The Negro Digest was launched by publisher John H. Johnson in 1942. It was advertised as a new type of “Reader’s Digest” for the African American Community. The publication mainly consisted of reprinted articles of interest to its African American readership. Johnson was initially unable to secure financing for the publication. It approached many sources from white bankers to the NAACP.   Johnson eventually financed the publication on his own. At the time he worked for a life insurance company. He offered prepaid $2 subscriptions to customers and was able to secure 3,000 pre-paid subscriptions through this appeal.

Early sales appeared promising with the publication achieving a distribution at its height of 150,000 issues per month. Distribution was challenging as some businesses did not want to openly display the publication believing it would not sell. Johnson encouraged his friends to approach local businesses requesting the Negro Digest…

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