The board of directors of Ebony Magazine have removed Willard Jackson Jr. as CEO amid an investigation into his transactions.
“The board of directors individually and collectively understands the legacy and value of Ebony to Black communities globally,” Jacob Walthour Jr., the newly elected chairman of Ebony’s board, said in a statement. “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.”
Jackson is currently under investigation for alleged transactions that were not approved by the board.
“The lack of transparency led to us wanting to drill down on not only the transactions but on a bunch of other things,” Walthour, who is also the co-founder of Blueprint Capital Advisors, told USA Today on Monday. “As we did that, we became increasingly uncomfortable and we decided as a board that it was time for Mr. Jackson to be removed as the CEO.”
Following Jackson’s exit, the board of directors will appoint an interim CEO and operating committee. The board is also prioritizing the payment of delinquent compensation to employees.
Jackson is a partner in Clear View Group, which purchased Ebony in 2016. CVG suspended the print edition of the magazine in May 2019 and, along with Ebony Media Operations, laid off numerous staffers that June.
Founded by Johnson in 1945, the iconic publication will celebrate its 75th anniversary on November 22 of this year.