Ebony cited what it claimed was an illegal board meeting, removal of a director, a notice of lender liability, and defamation in its action.
The Ebony ownership said in a statement that it “grew concerned when Walthour began to book media appearances and shared confidential information with outlets, including The Wall Street Journal. Walthour’s actions are in direct violation of Ebony’s governing documents that require the lender’s relationship to be kept at arm’s length.”
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In response, the Ebony Media Holdings board of directors issued the following statement:
“While there have been multiple attempts to claim ownership of Ebony Magazine, there is one Ebony Magazine. It is run by Ebony Media Holdings LLC and its operations are governed and overseen by its Board of Directors, including Michael Gibson, John C. Robinson, and Jacob Walthour, Jr. There have been no changes and any statement suggesting otherwise is inaccurate and patently false.
“The only entity under the Ebony umbrella is Ebony Magazine. There is no other entity recognized or authorized by the Company and its Board of Directors. There is no Ebony Foundation, no Ebony Capital Partners, no Ebony Entertainment LLC, etc.
“While his name has come up repeatedly, please note that Robert Shumake holds no leadership position or authority within the Company and he is not authorized to facilitate transactions on the Company’s behalf.
“Further, Willard Jackson Jr. holds no leadership position or ownership stake in the company. On July 2, 2020, the Board of Directors agreed to the removal of Mr. Jackson following an independent inquiry into several transactions that Jackson led. That investigation is ongoing. He is not authorized to facilitate transactions on the Company’s behalf.
“We feel it is entirely irresponsible for any individual or entity to assert that anyone other than Ebony Media Holdings, owns, operates and runs EBONY and we want to make it abundantly clear that we will pursue all legal remedies to protect the Ebony brand.”
EARLIER: The board of directors of Ebony Magazine has removed CEO Willard Jackson, Jr. after an an independent inquiry into a number of unspecified transactions led by him raised questions. The investigation is ongoing, the company said, but would not detail what that entailed or its effect on the publication.
“The board of directors individually and collectively understands the legacy and value of Ebony to Black communities globally,” said Jacob Walthour Jr., newly-elected chairman of Ebony’s board and cofounder of Blueprint Capital Advisors, a black-owned asset manager. “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.”
The board of directors said it will appoint an interim CEO and operating committee. As part of the board’s engagement, they are prioritizing the payment of delinquent compensation to Ebony employees, but didn’t provide further details on what was owed or the reason for the delay.
Jackson is a partner in CVG Group, which purchased Ebony in 2016. The acquisition was financed by Parkview Capital Credit Inc. (PCC) through a series of loans. The management of PCC was recently taken over by Blueprint Capital Advisors in April 2019.
Ebony was first published in 1945, and will turn 75 years old on Nov. 22 of this year.
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