Black Is Beautiful in The New Yorker

Black Is Beautiful: JET Beauties of the Week reviewed in the New Yorker! Famed 60s sunshine pop band 5th Dimension’s LaMonte McLemore contributed a weekly column “Beauty of the Week” to the renowned publication of African American pop culture, JETBlack Is Beautiful: JET Beauties of the Week compilesfor the first time, his personal selection of the column’s glory era. The New Yorker article includes some really great photos from this collection as well as some fascinating backstory on the publication and on the book.
“A new book, “Black Is Beautiful: JET Beauties of the Week” (powerHouse Books), collects some of the pictures that LaMonte McLemore, a vocalist and a founding member for the psychedelic soul band the 5th Dimension, took for Jet in the forty-plus years he worked for the magazine as a freelance photographer. Jet, which had more than a million subscribers, was the saucy little sister of Ebony. Both magazines were part of the publishing tycoon (and fashion mogul) John H. Johnson’s Chicago-based Black media empire. Ebony launched, in 1945, as an African American answer to Life magazine, catering to the tastes of upwardly mobile Black readers. Jet was less buttoned up. In 1975, the magazine published an interview with Pam Grier on the subject of how “it takes more than one man to satisfy [her],” plus an update on her rumored romance with Freddie Prinze. Jet did not feel the need to present a prudish image of Black people to counteract white stereotypes about their hypersexuality. Jet was for Black people who wanted to look at other Black people. In fact, one of its best-known rubrics was a listing of every time a Black character was going to appear on television week by week. Jet was also not like the respectable Ebony, but it was still respected, especially when, in 1955, it became the first outlet to publish the open-casket photographs of Emmett Till. McLemore, the first African American photographer hired by Harper’s Bazaar, was so proud to have his name associated with Jet that he squeezed in “Beauty of the Week” shoots between 5th Dimension tour stops.”
Read more about the book HERE
Read the full review HERE