Future site to honor influential Arkansan, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines
(ARKANSAS CITY, Ark.) – Arkansas State Parks recognized influential Arkansan John H. Johnson today at a groundbreaking event for the future site of John H. Johnson Park. The park will be adjacent to the Delta Heritage Trail State Park Robert S. Moore Jr. Arkansas City Trailhead.
The park will include walking paths, parking, a small amphitheater and interpretive exhibits about Johnson.
“We are excited to honor the life and legacy of John H. Johnson with the groundbreaking of this park,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “It is only fitting that this announcement comes on the day set aside by the state of Arkansas as John H. Johnson Day.”
Funding for the park is made possible by the Walton Family Foundation and Arkansas State Parks. The park is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023.
“This trailhead, close to his birthplace of Arkansas City, is the ideal location for a plaza honoring John H. Johnson,” said Shea Lewis, director of Arkansas State Parks. “We celebrate Johnson’s accomplishments in business, publishing and philanthropy, as well as his ties to The Natural State.”
Friends of John H. Johnson Museum held events at the Desha County Courthouse grounds prior to and after the groundbreaking. The celebration included a “Salute to Ebony Fashion Fair and Fashion Show,” an awards ceremony and performances by the Mann Middle School Dance Ensemble and Justin Anders and the UA-Monticello Jazz Combo.
Born in Arkansas City on Jan. 19, 1918, John H. Johnson is well-known for founding Johnson Publishing Company in 1942. The company is known for its influential Black magazines, Ebony and Jet. At one time, Johnson Publishing Company was the largest Black-owned publishing company in the world.
In 2019, the Arkansas General Assembly created an observance day for Johnson – John H. Johnson Day – which is observed each year on Nov. 1, the date the first issue of Ebony was published. Ebony is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
In addition to his business and publishing careers, Johnson served as a board member or trustee for business, philanthropic and cultural organizations. In 1996, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by former President Bill Clinton. Johnson died in 2005 at the age of 87.
Delta Heritage Trail State Park
Delta Heritage Trail State Park offers a unique opportunity to experience the rich cultural and natural landscape of the Arkansas Delta. Currently under development, over 40 miles is open for hiking and cycling on a former rail line under the national Rail to Trails program. The park also features camping, a visitor center, bicycle rentals and outdoor day-use facilities. When complete, the trail will continue for more than 80 miles.
Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with ASP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Stacy Hurst serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.