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ebony

ebony, common name for members of the Ebenaceae, a family of trees and shrubs widely distributed in warmer climates and in the tropics. The principal genus, Diospyros, includes both ebony and persimmon trees. Ebony wood, valued from ancient times, is hard and dark; it is extensively used for piano keys and in cabinetmaking, especially the black Macassar ebony of India and the East Indies. Several species (notably D. hirsuta) that have wood striped with black or with shades of brown are called calamander wood or variegated ebony. Several other unrelated hardwoods are commonly called ebony. Of the many species in the family bearing edible fruit, the best known are the persimmons. D. virginiana is native in the United States E of the Mississippi. The Japanese persimmon (D. kaki) is cultivated in Japan and China, in the Mediterranean area, and in the warmer regions of the United States. The unripe fruit contains tannic acid, a powerful astringent. Soft and pulpy when ripe, persimmons are difficult to market. Large quantities are eaten on the tree by opossums, whence the name possumwood for the tree. Persimmon wood has a limited use in the manufacture of objects (e.g., golf club heads) requiring hard wood. The ebony family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, order Ebenales, class Magnoliopsida.

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ebony

eb·on·y / ˈebənē/ • n. heavy blackish or very dark brown timber from a mainly tropical tree (genera Diospyros and Euclea, family Ebenaceae). ∎  a very dark brown or black color. ORIGIN: late Middle English: from earlier ebon (via Old French and Latin from Greek ebenos ‘ebony tree’.

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ebony

ebony XVI (hebeny). Preceded by †eban (XV) — OF. eban (also ebaine, mod. ébène) — medL. ebanus, var. of L. (h)ebenus — Gr. ébenos ebony tree, of Sem. orig.; later ebon (XVI), latinized (h)eben, which was superseded by forms with -y, perh. after ivory.

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ebony

ebony Hard, fine-grained dark heartwood of various Asian and African trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony family (Ebenaceae). Its major commercial tree is the macassar ebony (D. ebenum) of s India and Malaysia. It is valued for woodcarving, cabinetwork, and parts of musical instruments.

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ebony

ebony a heavy blackish or very dark brown wood, traditionally taken as the type of intense blackness. The name is recorded from late Middle English and comes from earlier ebon (via Old French and Latin from Greek ebenos ‘ebony tree’), perhaps on the pattern of ivory.

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ebony

ebony See DIOSPYROS.

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ebony

ebonyLéonie, peony •Tierney •Briony, bryony, Hermione •tourney • ebony • Albany •chalcedony • Alderney •Persephone, Stephanie, telephony •antiphony, epiphany, polyphony, tiffany •symphony •cacophony, homophony, theophany, Zoffany •euphony • agony • garganey •Antigone •cosmogony, mahogany, theogony •balcony • Gascony • Tuscany •calumny •felony, Melanie, miscellany •villainy • colony •Chamonix, salmony, scammony, Tammany •harmony •anemone, Emeny, hegemony, lemony, Yemeni •alimony, palimony •agrimony • acrimony •matrimony, patrimony •ceremony • parsimony • antimony •sanctimony • testimony • simony •Romany • Germany • threepenny •timpani • sixpenny • tuppenny •accompany, company •barony • saffrony • tyranny •synchrony • irony • saxony • cushiony •Anthony • betony •Brittany, dittany, litany •botany, cottony, monotony •gluttony, muttony •Bethany • oniony • raisiny •attorney, Burney, Czerny, Ernie, ferny, gurney, journey, Verny

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Ebony

Ebony


Published by the Johnson Publishing Company, Ebony has the largest circulation of any African-American periodical. Founded in 1945, it grew out of an attempt by publisher John H. Johnson to please two staff members who wanted to start an entertainment magazine, Jive. Johnson agreed to a three-way partnership on the project, but the two staffers were unable to put up money, so Johnson assumed full ownership. Johnson changed the style of the proposed magazine into one whose philosophy would be to highlight the positive side of African-American life, emphasizing black pride and achievements rather than oppression and poverty. Recognizing the widespread appeal of photos, Johnson planned a monthly glamour magazine on glossy paper, in the style of the popular weekly Life, filled with pictures of prominent and successful blacks. The new magazine, which Johnson named Ebony (after the beautiful and strong black wood), was planned during World War II, but because of paper restrictions, the first issue did not appear until November 1, 1945. Johnson had pledged to accept no advertisements until circulation reached 100,000; the magazine was an immediate success and the first ads appeared in the May 1946 issue. By May 1947, when Ebony became the first African-American periodical large enough to be audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, its circulation had reached 309,715. Despite its prestige and large circulation, however, poor advertising revenues made it unprofitable until Johnson secured advertising contracts from white firms previously reluctant to purchase space in African-American publications.

Ebony has drawn some criticism over the years for the showy, escapist nature of its features and its emphasis on the activities of wealthy blacks, although the magazine took a more activist direction starting in the era of the civil rights movement. Over time, the magazine has added sections on cooking, health, and gossip. The enormous success of Ebony has inspired numerous competitors over the years, and the magazine has had numerous spin-offs, including the periodicals Ebony Man, the now defunct Ebony Jr., the Ebony Fashion Fair traveling fashion show, and the syndicated television program Ebony/Jet Showcase.

In the 1990s the magazine's circulation was about 1.9 million, of which 12 percent were white, and Ebony was distributed in some forty countries, including many in Africa. African-American stars came out in force in 1996 to celebrate fifty years of the magazine in a TV special titled Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony Magazine.

Ebony presented a redesigned look and new features with its issue of July 2003, the journal's first major update in more than two decades. Circulation in 2004 was estimated at about 1.6 million.

See also Black World/Negro Digest; Jet ; Journalism

Bibliography

Graves, Earl. "Johnson Celebrates 50th," Black Enterprise 23 (November 1992): 26.

Jackson, Jesse. "Growing Up with Ebony. " Ebony 51, no. 1 (November 1995): 50th anniversary issue.

Johnson, John H., and Lerone Bennett Jr. Succeeding Against the Odds, Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 1989.

greg robinson (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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Ebony

EBONY

EBONY , heartwood of certain trees. The Hebrew word hovenim, which occurs in Ezekiel (27:15) in a reference to Tyre's commerce in "horns of ivory and hovenim," is identified by most translators and exegetes as ebony, called hbn in Egyptian. Several tropical trees supplied the ebony used in ancient times, the most important being the Diospyros ebenum, which grows in India. Other species of the same genus grow in Africa. Ebony was extensively used with ivory ornamentation (as described by Ezekiel) for the effect given by the contrast of black and white.

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 588–9; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 126.

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Ebony

Ebony

KEY TERMS

Resources

Ebony (Diospyros spp., family Ebenaceae) are species of tropical hardwood trees favored for their hard and beautiful wood. Only the black or brown heartwood is used commercially. There are more than 300 species of ebony, ranging in size from shrubs to trees taller than 100 feet (30 m). The best commercial ebony comes from India, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zaire, and the Celebes Islands. Most species of ebony are found in the tropics, but some are found in warm temperate zones. The latter includes the American persimmon (Diospyrus virginiana ), whose heartwood is not a full black and does not have the extreme density that is so desirable for carving and fine woodwork. Aggressive harvesting of ebony has rendered many species of ebony rare and endangered, and consequently, quite valuable.

Plants in the Ebenaceae family have simple, alternate, coriaceous (or leathery) leaves that are oblong or lanceolate, and vary in length according to species. The flowers are white or greenish-white, with at least four stamens. The globular fruits are sought by animals and humans alike because of their sweetness when ripe. Some indigenous tribes use the fruit to make beer. The leaves and other parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine to treat intestinal parasites, wounds, dysentery, and fever, but laboratory tests have not verified the efficacy of this medicinal usage.

The wood of the ebony is so dense, it rapidly dulls tools used for working, sawing, or turning it. Even termites will bypass a fallen ebony log. This density contributes to ebonys commercial appeal, as it results in a finish that will take a high polish, adding to its beauty. The properties, attributed to ebony through both fact and myth, have been recognized for many generations. It has long been a favorite material for carving in Africa. Some rulers in India had scepters made from it, and also used it for their drinking vessels as it was believed to neutralize poisons. Today, ebony is used for many purposes, including tool and knife handles, furniture, inlay work, wall paneling, golf club heads, and musical instruments.

For many years ebony was used for the black keys on pianos, but increasing costs have necessitated the use of synthetic substitutes. Today, only the most expensive concert pianos are still made with ebony. Ebony is also used in stringed instruments for tension pegs and fingerboards.

Although there are many species of ebony, only a few provide commercial-grade wood, and the demand far exceeds the supply. Africa is the source of the most desirable, jet-black heartwood. It comes from the species Diospyrus crassiflora, commonly called African ebony. This ebony is prized for its intensely black core. With a wood-density of 64 pounds per cubic foot (1, 030 kg/cu. m), it has a specific gravity of 1.03 and will not float in water. It is found in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zaire.

Diospyrus macassar, commonly called Macassar ebony, is not as plentiful as the African species, but its greater density makes it even more useful in certain types of manufacturing. With a weight of 68 pounds per cubic foot (1, 090 kg/cu m), it is even more dense than African ebony. It has a specific gravity of 1.09, and also does not float. Macassar ebony is found mostly in the Celebes Islands of Indonesia, with some minor growth in India. The heartwood is frequently streaked with lighter bands, and this type is favored by piano makers. Because they are so difficult to dry, the trees are usually girdled to kill them and then left standing for two years to dry out. After they are felled and cut into lumber, they must dry for another six months.

KEY TERMS

Calyx All the sepals of a flower, collectively.

Coriaceous Leathery in texture, thicker than normal.

Dioecious Plants in which male and female flowers occur on separate plants.

Lanceolate Lance shaped.

Sepals Usually outermost division of the calyx.

Diospyros mespiliformis, also known as the Jakkalsbessie (Jackals berry), Transvaal ebony, or Rhodesian ebony, is a straight tree that grows 70 feet (21 m) tall with a trunk up to 4 feet (1.4 m) or more in diameter. It is more widespread and abundant than other ebonies, but the heartwood is more brown than black, limiting its appeal. Among many native cultures, it serves a medicinal purpose and concoctions derived from the leaves and bark are used to treat wounds, fevers, and intestinal parasites. Color aside, the density of Rhodesian ebony renders it desirable for furniture, knife handles, and flooring. The fruit is edible.

Diospyrus virginiana, the persimmon, or American ebony, is a native of the southeastern United States. It takes approximately 100 years to mature and grows to a height of 65 feet (20 m). Like the tropical ebonies, it has simple, alternate coriaceous leaves. The flowers are yellowish green and the fruit is yellow, globose, and somewhat larger than its tropical cousins (up to 2.5 inches [6.4 cm] in diameter). The fruits are filled with many seeds and have a sweet, custard-like interior. Due to its hardness, the wood is used for handles, furniture, and golf club heads. Since there are no vast groves of persimmon, it is not of great economic importance. Persimmon weighs 5355 pounds per cubic foot (826904 kg/cu m).

The growing scarcity of all types of commercial ebony has steadily increased its value. All commercially valuable species are becoming rare, and some are endangered in their wild habitats. Many of the uses of ebony can be substituted by synthetic materials, such as hard plastics, although these do not have the aesthetic appeal of true ebony wood.

Resources

BOOKS

Dale, Ivan R. Kenya Trees and Shrubs. London: Hatchards, 1991.

OTHER

Palomar Community College. Waynes WorldAn On-Line

Textbook of Natural History. Hardwoods: Trees and Shrubs with Hard, Dense Wood <http://waynesword. palomar.edu/plsept99> (accessed November 20, 2006).

J. Gordon Miller

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Ebony

Ebony

In 1945, John H. Johnson conceived of a new magazine showing positive photographs of African Americans. The result was Ebony, the most successful African American publication in history, with a one-time circulation of more than two million and a pass-around readership of nine million. Building on the success of Ebony, Johnson went on to make privately-held Johnson Publishing Co. one of the five largest Black-owned businesses in the United States. With its sister magazines, including Jet, a Johnson publication reached one out of every two African-American adults by the end of the twentieth century, a saturation rate few other publishers could match. Johnson was one of the richest men in the United States and perhaps the most influential African American to ever live even though readers have not always been able to relate to the image of Blacks as presented in Ebony.

The first African American magazines, like Black newspapers, were born during the period of agitation against slavery that led in part to the Civil War. Titles such as the Mirror of Liberty and National Reformer were linked to abolitionism, but the French language L'Album Litteraire, Journal des Jeunes Gens, and Les Canelles and the American Anglo-African Magazine treated literature and other political issues as well. New Black magazines began appearing after the war and emancipation. Some of the more successful post-bellum titles that spoke to the conditions of their readers were Southern Workman, African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Colored American Magazine, and Voice of the Negro. In the early twentieth century, the NAACP's Crisis briefly attracted more than one hundred thousand readers. It was joined by the Messenger, Journal of Negro History, Opportunity, Journal of Negro Education, Phylon, and others. But none of these publications could boast of sustained mass circulation. They were read and supported by relatively small numbers of the better educated, upper-class Blacks. The vast majority of literate middle and lower-class Blacks read nationally-circulated newspapers like the Negro World, Chicago Defender, and Pittsburgh Courier before World War II.

John Harold Johnson was born into poverty in rural Arkansas City, Arkansas, on January 19, 1918. His father was killed in a sawmill accident when he was eight years old and his mother remarried in 1927. The curriculum for black students in the segregated Mississippi River town of Arkansas City stopped at the eighth grade, so Johnson and his family became part of the early twentieth-century Black diaspora to the North and migrated to Chicago in 1933, in part because of the World's Fair there. Johnson became an honor student at DuSable High School. At a convocation, he delivered a speech heard by Harry H. Pace, president of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, a company that sold to Blacks who would not have been otherwise able to get life insurance.

Pace had encouraged a number of talented young Blacks, including singer and actor Paul Robeson, and gave Johnson a part-time job at his insurance company so Johnson could attend the University of Chicago. Johnson's interests were in the business world however, and he dropped out of college to marry and work full time for Pace's insurance company. Among Johnson's duties was to collect news and information about African Americans and prepare a weekly digest for Pace, loosely based on the format of the popular Reader's Digest. Johnson reasoned that such a Black digest could be marketed, and sought a $500 bank loan in late 1942. The only collateral that he could offer was some new furniture that he had helped his mother buy. She considered his offer, but refused to give an answer until she had prayed on the matter. Without an answer a week later, Johnson offered to pray with her, as his 1989 autobiography relates. A few days later, check in hand, Negro Digest was born and reached $50,000 in sales within a year.

With the end of World War II in 1945, Johnson predicted that returning Black veterans would need a new magazine to help them cope with the racism back home. He was particularly concerned by how the White mainstream press portrayed African Americans. No notice was given of Black births, education, marriages, achievements, or even deaths in daily newspapers. Only when a Black committed a crime were names and photographs published. "We believed in 1945 that Black Americans needed positive images to fulfill their potential," Johnson wrote. "We believed then—and we believe now—that you have to change images before you can change acts and institutions." Johnson also recognized that the great Black and White magazines of words, Time, Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, and his own Negro Digest, had reached their peak and were giving way to what he called the "blitzkrieg of the photograph." Life, a weekly magazine founded by Henry Luce in 1936, and Look, which first appeared in 1937, featured full page pictures by the leading photographers of the day and developed massive circulations. Johnson believed that the photographic magazines of the 1940s, including his monthly Ebony, accomplished what television did in the following decades, "opened new windows in the mind and brought us face to face with the multicolored possibilities of man and woman."

The first issue of Ebony appeared on November 1, 1945, sold for 25 cents, and featured a black-and-white photograph of seven boys, six White and one Black, from a New York City settlement house on its front cover. Inside were articles on novelist Richard Wright, a Black businessman who went from "slave to banker," and the first appearance of a regular feature, a photo-editorial, on post-war unemployment. The magazine was not an instant success. Johnson was eager to imitate the success of Life, which devoted a significant portion of each weekly issue to the activities of rich, famous, and glamorous people. Johnson sought to emphasize the more glamorous aspects of African-American life, in contrast to the negative tone of Negro Digest, so he concentrated on Black accomplishments in the worlds of entertainment and business. His elitist perspective did not always represent the aspirations of middle and lower-class Blacks, who bought the magazine for escapism rather than inspiration. Black press historian Walter C. Daniel observed that the early Ebony advanced a two-society portrait of American life, one Black and another White. " Ebony extracted a journalism model and economic clout from one and used these to propel the accomplishments and aspirations of the other without the encumbrances of philanthropy that had obligated almost every previous black institution," Daniel wrote. Still, Life and Look had much the same rose colored perspective as Ebony, and did not begin to promote actively more serious photojournalism, at least on their covers, until the 1950s and 1960s.

Before the first issue, Johnson had announced that he would not accept any advertising until Ebony had achieved a circulation of 100,000 copies. The first issue sold 50,000 copies but Johnson had to wait until May 1946 before accepting his first ad. He wanted to publish full page four-color ads like Life and Look, but most Black companies could not afford the cost. Johnson wrote to the chief executives of large corporations trying to convince them to consider Black as well as White publications for their advertising. He struck pay dirt with Eugene F. MacDonald, the CEO of the Chicago-based Zenith Corporation. MacDonald was a former arctic explorer and personal friend of Matthew Henson, a Black man who was one of the first to step on the North Pole. Zenith was not the first White owned company to advertise in Black publication. Wrigley's gum and Bayer Aspirin had advertised in the Negro World in the 1920s. But a long term contract with Zenith opened doors to other White corporations and insured Ebony's continued profitability as its circulation grew. Over its history, Ebony meant prestige to its advertisers even as the magazine was criticized for an excess of alcoholic beverage ads and the use of lighter hued Black models.

Along with profiles of celebrities and businessmen, Ebony provided reliable news on the battle against segregation and the rise of the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Johnson's pictorial editorials praised student activism and condemned so-called Uncle Tom faculty and administrators in traditional African-American colleges and universities. Ebony presented news and analysis on the rise of nationalism among former African colonies, including biographical sketches of diplomatic and government officials in the new nations and the representatives they sent to the United States and United Nations. A 1953 photograph of Harry Belafonte with actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis was the first time a Black person was seen with two Whites on the cover of a U.S. magazine. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., published an article on a visit to India in Ebony and contributed a regular question and answer column, "Ad-vice for Living By." Ebony photographer Moneta Sleet, Jr., became the first Black male to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1969.

Johnson openly endorsed political candidates in Ebony, beginning with Harry Truman in 1948, in contrast to the more politically obtuse Life. He encouraged Blacks to think of politics in economic rather than racial terms, but remained a Democrat through the years, supporting Adlai Stevenson over Dwight Eisenhower, who had justified the Army's Jim Crowism during World War II. Johnson supported John F. Kennedy in 1960, and an Ebony writer predicted that Kennedy would support liberal race legislation in Congress, a promise fulfilled by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and 1965. Johnson has met with every subsequent president, including his home state governor, Bill Clinton.

Ebony's bicentennial issue in 1976 presented "200 Years of Black Trials and Triumphs," an overview of African American history. On the occasion of its 35th anniversary in 1980, Ebony claimed a total readership of over six million readers. Ebony celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1995 with Johnson's daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, as president and chief operating officer. The issue featured "50 Who Have Changed America," a list of prominent Blacks including Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan, Colin L. Powell, and Oprah Winfrey. Johnson, written about and honored more than any living Black journalist, began the issue by observing "institutions, corporations, magazines, principalities have lived and died since Nov. 1, 1945, and Ebony is still here, and still No. 1" and repeated his favorite saying, "the only failure is failing to try." Ebony remains his living legacy to that end.

—Richard Digby-Junger

Further Reading:

Daniel, Walter C. Black Journals of the United States. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1982, 159-64.

"The Ebony Story." Ebony. November, 1995, 80-7.

Johnson, John H., and Lerone Bennett, Jr. Succeeding Against the Odds. New York, Warner Books, 1989.

Leslie, Michael. "Slow Fade to ?: Advertising in Ebony Magazine." Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. Summer 1995, 426-35.

Pride, Armistead S., and Clint C. Wilson, II. A History of the Black Press. Washington, D.C., Howard University Press, 1997, 251-52.

Wilson, Clint C., II. Black Journalists in Paradox. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1991.

Wolseley, Roland E. The Black Press, U.S.A. 2nd ed. Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University Press, 1990, 85-9, 142-44, 321-24.

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Ebony

Ebony

Ebony (Diospyros spp., family Ebenaceae) are species of tropical hardwood trees favored for their hard and beautiful wood . Only the black or brown heartwood is used commercially. There are more than 300 species of ebony, ranging in size from shrubs to trees taller than 100 ft (30 m). The best commercial ebony comes from India, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zaire, and the Celebes Islands. Most species of ebony are found in the tropics, but some are found in warm temperate zones. The latter includes the American persimmon (Diospyrus virginiana), whose heartwood is not a full black and does not have the extreme density that is so desirable for carving and fine woodwork. Aggressive harvesting of ebony has rendered many species of ebony rare and endangered, and consequently, quite valuable.

Plants in the Ebenaceae family have simple, alternate, coriaceous (or leathery) leaves that are oblong or lanceolate, and vary in length according to species. The flowers are white or greenish-white, with at least four stamens. The globular fruits are sought by animals and humans alike because of their sweetness when ripe. Some indigenous tribes use the fruit to make beer. The leaves and other parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine to treat intestinal parasites , wounds, dysentery , and fever, but laboratory tests have not verified the efficacy of this medicinal usage.

The wood of the ebony is so dense, it rapidly dulls tools used for working, sawing, or turning it. Even termites will bypass a fallen ebony log. This density contributes to ebony's commercial appeal, as it results in a finish that will take a high polish, adding to its beauty. The properties, attributed to ebony through both fact and myth, have been recognized for many generations. It has long been a favorite material for carving in Africa . Some rulers in India had scepters made from it, and also used it for their drinking vessels as it was believed to neutralize poisons. Today, ebony is used for many purposes, including tool and knife handles, furniture, inlay work, wall paneling, golf club heads, and musical instruments. For many years ebony was used for the black keys on the piano, but increasing costs have necessitated the use of synthetic substitutes. Today, only the most expensive concert pianos are still made with ebony. Ebony is also used in stringed instruments for tension pegs and fingerboards.

Although there are many species of ebony, only a few provide commercial-grade wood, and the demand far exceeds the supply. Africa is the source of the most desirable, jet-black heartwood. It comes from the species Diospyrus crassiflora, commonly called African ebony. This ebony is prized for its intensely black core. With a wood-density of 64 lb/cu. ft (1,030 kg/cu. m), it has a specific gravity of 1.03 and will not float in water . It is found in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zaire.

Diospyrus macassar, commonly called Macassar ebony, is not as plentiful as the African species, but its greater density makes it even more useful in certain types of manufacturing. With a weight of 68 lb/cu ft (1,090 kg/cu m), it is even more dense than African ebony. It has a specific gravity of 1.09, and also does not float. Macassar ebony is found mostly in the Celebes Islands of Indonesia, with some minor growth in India. The heartwood is frequently streaked with lighter bands, and this type is favored by piano makers. Because they are so difficult to dry, the trees are usually girdled to kill them and then left standing for two years to dry out. After they are felled and cut into lumber, they must dry for another six months.

Diospyros mespiliformis, also known as the Jakkals-bessie (Jackal's berry), Transvaal ebony, or Rhodesian ebony, is a straight tree that grows 70 ft (21 m) tall with a trunk up to 4 ft (1.4 m) or more in diameter. It is more widespread and abundant than other ebonies, but the heartwood is more brown than black, limiting its appeal. Among many native cultures, it serves a medicinal purpose and concoctions derived from the leaves and bark are used to treat wounds, fevers, and intestinal parasites. Color aside, the density of Rhodesian ebony renders it desirable for furniture, knife handles, and flooring. The fruit is edible.

Diospyrus virginiana, the persimmon, or American ebony, is a native of the southeastern United States. It takes approximately 100 years to mature and grows to a height of 65 ft (20 m). Like the tropical ebonies, it has simple, alternate coriaceous leaves. The flowers are yellowish green and the fruit is yellow, globose, and somewhat larger than its tropical cousins (up to 2.5 in [6.4 cm] in diameter). The fruits are filled with many seeds and have a sweet, custard-like interior. Due to its hardness, the wood is used for handles, furniture, and golf club heads. Since there are no vast groves of persimmon, it is not of great economic importance. Persimmon weighs 53–55 lb/cu ft (826–904 kg/cu m).

The growing scarcity of all types of commercial ebony has steadily increased its value. All commercially valuable species are becoming rare, and some are endangered in their wild habitats. Many of the uses of ebony can be substituted by synthetic materials, such as hard plastics , although these do not have the aesthetic appeal of true ebony wood.

Resources

books

Dale, Ivan R. Kenya Trees and Shrubs. London: Hatchards, 1991.


J. Gordon Miller

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Calyx

—All the sepals of a flower, collectively.

Coriaceous

—Leathery in texture, thicker than normal.

Dioecious

—Plants in which male and female flowers occur on separate plants.

Lanceolate

—Lance shaped.

Sepals

—Usually outermost division of the calyx.

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Ebony

Ebony



Published continuously since 1945, Ebony is the largest U.S. mass-circulation magazine written by and for African Americans. With a circulation of more than two million, the full-color monthly, as well as the digest-size Jet magazine, is published by the privately held Johnson Publishing Company, one of the nation's largest black-owned businesses.

Ebony's first issue appeared on November 1, 1945, the brainchild of John Harold Johnson (1918–), who had been born into poverty in Arkansas. Johnson had acquired his publishing skills as the editor of a weekly news digest for the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, owned by Harry H. Pace (1884–1943). With a $500 loan using his mother's furniture as collateral (that is, pledging that the lender could have the furniture if he could not repay the loan), Johnson founded the Negro Digest in 1942. By the end of World War II (1939–45), he was envisioning a magazine that would present positive images to the African American community, believing that "you have to change images before you can change acts and institutions," as he wrote in Succeeding Against the Odds. Inspired by the success of mass-circulation periodicals like Life (see entry under 1930s—Print Culture in volume 2) and Look, each of whose formula was based on photographic images, Johnson wanted to create a magazine that glorified the accomplishments of Negroes (the term then commonly used to describe African Americans) in the United States and abroad.

Unlike other Negro periodicals that concentrated on social problems, Ebony focused on the community's success stories in the business and entertainment worlds. This approach was criticized by some as being elitist, but the magazine was warmly received by its readership. The first issue sold fifty thousand copies, and circulation doubled within the first year. Thanks to advertising support by white-owned companies, led by the Zenith Corporation, Ebony was soon able to attract the revenues it needed to become profitable.

Ebony strongly endorsed the civil rights movement (see entry under 1960s—The Way We Lived in volume 4) of the 1950s and 1960s. The magazine published newsworthy articles about the struggle for black empowerment in the United States and around the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) contributed articles as well as a regular column for the magazine. In 1969, one of Ebony's photographers, Moneta Sleet Jr. (1926–1996), became the first black male to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Johnson's daughter, Linda Johnson Rice (1958–), has succeeded her father as president and chief operating officer of the Johnson Publishing Company.


—Edward Moran


For More Information

"The Ebony Story." Ebony (November 1995): 80–87.

Johnson, John H., and Lerone Bennett Jr. Succeeding Against the Odds. New York: Warner Books, 1989.

Johnson Publishing Company.http://www.ebony.com/jpcindex.html (accessed February 20, 2002).

Pride, Armistead S., and Clint C. Wilson II. A History of the Black Press. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1997.

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