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H.R. 3868 (112th): To grant the congressional gold medal to John H. Johnson in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the United States.

The text of the bill below is as of Feb 1, 2012 (Introduced).



2d Session

H. R. 3868


February 1, 2012

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


To grant the congressional gold medal to John H. Johnson in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the United States.



Congress makes the following findings:


John H. Johnson published the first edition of the Negro Digest in 1942, having conceived of the idea while working at the Supreme Life Insurance Company.


This publication covered African-American history, literature, arts, and cultural issues and reached a circulation of 50,000 within six months.


Renamed to Black World, the publication reached a circulation of more than 100,000 subscribers at its peak.


Johnson’s later creation, Ebony magazine, supplanted this record in selling out its initial run of 25,000 printed copies and at its height had 2,300,000 subscribers.


Through Ebony magazine, Johnson provided insight into the African-American community by reporting on issues such as the white problem in America, African-American militancy, crimes by African-Americans against African-Americans, civil rights legislation, freedom rides and marches, and other aspects of segregation and discrimination.


Johnson worked to ensure that the contributions of African-Americans to the United States were documented by trained historians who were brought on to the magazine's staff.


Striving to show positive images of African-Americans, Johnson featured African-American models in the magazine's advertisements, and a concerted effort was made to show positive aspects of African-American life and culture.


Johnson’s quest to serve African-American readers continued in subsequent years by launching four other magazines entitled Tan, Jet, African American Stars, and Ebony Jr!, a children's magazine.


Johnson later expanded his enterprise when becoming chairman and chief executive officer of the Supreme Life Insurance Company, developing a line of cosmetics, owning three radio stations, starting a book publishing company, and a television production company.


Invited by the United States Government to participate in several international missions, Johnson accompanied the Vice President of the United States on a mission to Russia and Poland in 1959, and was appointed to be a Special Ambassador to represent the United States at the independence ceremonies in the Ivory Coast in 1961 and Kenya in 1963.


In 1966, Johnson was honored with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Spingarn Medal for his contributions to improving race relations in the United States.


In 1966, The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans awarded Johnson the Horatio Alger Award in recognition of his outstanding work as a dedicated community leader.


In 1972, Johnson was named Publisher of the Year by the Magazine Publishers Association, an industry association for consumer magazines.


In 1993, the Wall Street Journal awarded Johnson with the Dow Jones Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.


In 1994, Johnson was awarded the Center for Communication’s Communication Award, on the occasion of Ebony’s 50th anniversary.


In 1996, President William Clinton awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom which was followed in 1997 by Johnson’s induction into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame.


In 2001, Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.


Among his numerous awards and honors, Johnson has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Harvard University, the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, Eastern Michigan University, and Wayne State University.


Congressional gold medal


Award Authorized

The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate design to John H. Johnson in recognition of his outstanding work, leadership, and service.


Design and Striking

For the purposes of the award referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act referred to as the Secretary) shall strike the gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.


Duplicate medals

Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 2, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.


Status of medals

The medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.


Authority to use fund amounts; proceeds of sale


Authority To use fund amounts

There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck pursuant to this Act.


Proceeds of Sale

Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals authorized under section 3 shall be deposited into the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.