If there was ever a publication that played a significant role in the lives of African Americans, it would certainly be Ebony Magazine. The publication earned acclaimed for its coverage of the civil rights movement and profiling of successful Black businesses. It also became a forum for Black startups and businesses to advertise.
The magazine, which was founded 75 years ago by publisher John Johnson, took a nosedive due to a drop in ad revenues and the advent of the internet. The firm eventually went into bankruptcy as the business became unsustainable.
The magazine has officially relaunched in a digital form with Eden Bridgeman as its new owner. The 34-year-old was born in Los Angeles and raised in Louisville. Bridgeman has been working for her family’s company, Manna Inc., since 2009. The firm owns hundreds of restaurants throughout the United States, including 130 Wendy’s locations.
After completing her MBA in 2013 from Loyola University Chicago-Quinlan School of Business, Bridgeman was appointed Chief Market Officer of Manna Inc. in 2017.
In December 2020, Bridgeman’s father, Junior Bridgeman, bought the Ebony Magazine and its sister company, Jet, for $14 million via his firm Bridgeman Sports and Media. A former NBA star, he was optimistic of returning the once-revered Black-owned publication in America to profit and to a place of prominence in American culture.
Bridgeman understands the task ahead of her. She told the Business Insider that buying the firm out of bankruptcy meant that she had to outline policies and measures to ensure that the firm succeeds. As the new owner of Ebony, Bridgeman will still retain her position as Chief Market Officer of Manna Inc. while overseeing the growth of Ebony.
Bridgeman is hopefully taking Ebony to its earlier days where it opened doors for Black writers and gave entrepreneurs a marketing platform. Already, Ebony has shown signs of promise. It has over 1 million followers on Instagram.
“We want to make sure this is successful,” Bridgeman said. “We’re sitting on 75 years of history. If we aren’t able to maintain the business, then what good are we going to be for our community?”
Bridgeman credits her father for her latest venture. According to her, her dad, who played for Milwaukee Bucks for 10 seasons before moving to the Los Angeles Clippers, gave her and her brothers the liberty to be part of the family business.
“I think that the freedom my parents allowed myself and my brothers [who also have leadership roles with Manna, Inc.] to have is that you could start anything and it could be part of and supported by the family business—something that obviously we’re doing with Ebony and Jet now,” she told Ebony.