The board of directors of EBONY magazine announced the removal of Willard Jackson Jr. as CEO amid an ongoing investigation relating to his transactions. The move comes weeks after the board commissioned an independent inquiry into a number of Jackson’s transactions.
According to a statement by the news and lifestyle publication, the board is investigating transactions made by Jackson that did not have approval from the board, per company protocol. As a result, the board will appoint an interim CEO and operating committee.
“The lack of transparency led to us wanting to drill down on, not only the transactions, but on a bunch of other things,” Jacob Walthour Jr., the newly-elected chairman of EBONY’s board of directors, told USA Today. “As we did that, we became increasingly uncomfortable and we decided as a board that it was time for Mr. Jackson to be removed as the CEO.”
Jackson is a partner in CVG Group, which purchased the magazine in 2016, states the press release. The acquisition was financed by Parkview Capital Credit Inc. (PCC) through a series of loans. The management of PCC was later taken over by Blueprint Capital Advisors, a Black-owned asset manager, in April 2019.
In a statement, Walthour Jr. said EBONY is committed to uploading the principles that the magazine was founded upon by business and publishing titan John H. Johnson in 1945.
“Founder John H. Johnson conducted himself and EBONY business with a level of class, integrity and honor that has come to define Black professionalism in America. While the Board expects that EBONY will always need to adapt its business model to stay relevant, it must never compromise the core values of Mr. Johnson,” said Walthour Jr., the co-founder of Blueprint Capital Advisors.
The publication, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary in November, added that it would prioritize the payment of delinquent compensation to employees years after unpaid writers first blasted EBONY in 2017 on social media using the hashtag #EbonyOwes.
“As we approach EBONY’s 75th anniversary, now more than any other time since the Civil Rights movement, Black people need a medium to express ‘their’ voice and record this historical moment,” said John C. Robinson, an EBONY director. “We are committed to the preservation of this valuable asset to the Black community and being a part of the next 75 years.”