Joan Johnson, who co-founded one of the nation's largest Black-owned companies, Johnson Products Company, has died at 89. She passed away Friday in Chicago after a long illness, her family confirmed. Joan along with her husband, George Johnson, started Johnson Products Company in Chicago in 1954.
According to CNN, the entrepreneur couple “took a $250 investment and turned it into a multi-million dollar company which became the first black-owned company to be traded on the American Stock Exchange (now known as NYSE American).” If you’re wondering how they did that, well, the company is responsible for staple products in the Black community such as Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen.
"When I think about pioneers, the real pioneers are the people who are able to make a path where none exists," her son Eric G. Johnson told CNN. "Johnson Products in many ways was that company. She and my father had no provided path. They created a path where there was none."
Johnson Products Company contributed towards the growth of another African-American staple that started in Chicago — Soul Train. In the early ‘70s, the haircare company became a sponsor of the hit TV program, which went on to run in national syndication for almost four decades. BET hosts the Soul Train Awards today, and we thank Joan Johnson, her husband, and their family for being trailblazers for the culture.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)