ARKANSAS CITY, Ark. – A publishing icon and Natural State native was honored with a new sculpture in his hometown Wednesday.

Many celebrated the 5th annual John H. Johnson Day in Arkansas, bringing people from far and wide to Arkansas City for the unveiling of a statue of the hall-of-fame businessman John H. Johnson.

Johnson was the founder of Johnson Publishing Company, which produced the iconic magazines Ebony and Jet. From the 1960s through the 2000s, Johnson Publishing Company was the largest Black-owned public company in the United States.

Magazines like Ebony and Jet were fixtures in many African-American households, making Johnson one of the most influential black media leaders.

The new statue was created by Little Rock sculptor Susan Holley Williams, it was unveiled in Johnson’s hometown in Arkansas City at his commemorative plaza at the Delta Heritage Trail State Park.

  • From left to right_ Dr. Calvin Johnson - Lynne Walton (Walton Family Foundation) - Linda Johnson Rice (Daughter of JHJ) - Susan Holley Williams (sculptor) - Alexa Rice (granddaughter of JHJ) - standing in front of unveiled JHJ statue.
  • From left - JHJ statue sculptor Susan Holley Williams and Linda Johnson Rice taking in the unveiled JHJ statue
  • Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Shea Lewis embraces Linda Johnson Rice following the unveiling of the John H. Johnson statue in her father's honor.

Johnson’s daughter Linda Johnson Rice called the statue spectacular.

“I think the statue just embeds my father’s legacy,” she said.

Johnson’s granddaughter Alexa Rice was also in attendance, and the statue had her in awe.

“It looks so much like him, it’s a beautiful piece,” she said. “I’m so happy he is home.”

Some of Johnson’s accolades include being the first African American named to the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans in 1982 and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Johnson’s daughter goes on to say she hopes her father’s story motivates others.

“It just shows you what can happen and how you can succeed,” Linda Johnson Rice said.

There were also school kids who were at the unveiling. Rice said she hopes they take the same steps her father did.

“I would hope that my father’s legacy would represent them and give a sense of aspiration and inspiration and that somewhere on that school bus is another John Johnson.”