Our Favorite Jet Magazine Covers

As Jet transitions from print to digital, we take a look back at some of the legends, beauties, icons and trailblazers who graced the magazine’s cover.

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    Whitney Houston; Barack Obama; cast of Good Times (courtesy of Jet Magazine)

    Jet magazine, the digest-sized magazine that has graced African-American homes, beauty salons and barbershops for more than 60 years, announced this week that it’s ending its print edition in May. Moving ahead with today’s digital age, the magazine will be published weekly online and through its new app. Founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson and Johnson Publishing Co., the magazine has been a staple for African Americans to keep up on topics ranging from politics and civil rights to entertainment and global issues. In this slideshow, we take a look at some our favorite covers from the magazine’s 63-year history.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Marian Anderson, Feb. 7, 1952

    Anderson was one of the most celebrated singers of the early 20th century. She was featured on the cover of the magazine three years before she became the first black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Eartha Kitt, July 31, 1952

    Kitt was featured on the cover of Jet shortly after she was cast in the Broadway revue New Faces of 1952.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Ralph Bunche, Nov. 20, 1952

    In 1950 Bunche was the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in then-Palestine. Jet honored the diplomat in 1952 atop its list of the world’s most influential blacks.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Diahann Carroll, April 15, 1954

    In January 1954, Carroll made her television debut on Chance of a Lifetime. Later that year she appeared in the film Carmen Jones in a small supporting role.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, Sept. 30, 1954

    Dubbed “Hollywood’s Newest Love Team” by Jet, the duo starred in Carmen Jones in 1954.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Althea Gibson, Aug. 7, 1958

    Between 1947 and 1956, Gibson won 10 back-to-back tennis championships. She graced the cover of Jet seven years after becoming the first black tennis player to compete at Wimbledon.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    A Raisin in the Sun Cast, March 26, 1959

    Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil and Ruby Dee starred in Lorraine Hansberry’s Broadway play, A Raisin in the Sun, in 1959. It is currently on its second Broadway revival, starring Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Thurgood Marshall, Aug. 24, 1967

    President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court in June 1967. He took his seat on the court in October and served for 24 years.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    John F. Kennedy, Dec. 12, 1963

    President Kennedy appeared on the cover of Jet shortly after his assassination in Dallas in November 1963.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Malcolm X and Cassius Clay, March 26, 1964

    The friendship between these two world icons stirred a bit of controversy during the ’60s.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Emmett Till issue, July 23, 1964

    This issue is remembered for its graphic images of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Mississippi boy who was brutally murdered in 1955.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Martin Luther King Jr., April 10, 1969

    A year after King was assassinated, Jet wrote a special report on the civil rights icon’s legacy and the future of the movement.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    The Jackson 5, Aug. 6, 1970

    The Jackson 5 signed with Motown in 1969 and quickly rose to fame, becoming one of the most popular boy groups of all time.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Flip Wilson, Jan. 14, 1971

    The Flip Wilson Show first aired on NBC in September 1970, and Jet featured the comedian on its cover in 1971. A year later Time magazine took notice and labeled Wilson “TV’s first black superstar.”

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Tina Turner, Sept. 30, 1971

    Ike and Tina Turner were at the height of their success in the early ’70s after opening for the Rolling Stones on tour.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Angela Davis, Nov. 18, 1971

    The political activist was in the midst of her trial for aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder when Jet ran its special report on her case.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Billy Dee Williams, March 1, 1973

    Jet named Williams the movies’ new black sex symbol after he starred in Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany, both opposite Diana Ross.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Esther Rolle and John Amos, May 23, 1974

    Jet featured several TV stars on its covers, and this portrait of Florida and James Evans from Good Times was one of many TV-centered covers in the magazine’s history.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Roots, Jan. 27, 1977

    Jet released its Roots issue the same week the miniseries aired for eight days on ABC.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    The Wiz, Oct. 26, 1978

    The Wiz, a 1978 remake of The Wizard of Oz that starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, was released Oct. 24, 1978.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and Dick Gregory, May 31, 1979

    These comedians, all known for their laugh-out-loud storytelling and joke-making skills, often used the n-word in their stand-up routines.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Marvin Gaye, April 16, 1984

    Jet remembered the life and legacy of the singer, who was killed by his father April 1, 1984.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Bill Cosby and Phylicia Ayers-Allen, Aug. 13, 1984

    Our favorite TV mom and dad appeared on the cover of Jet just months before The Cosby Show aired for the first time on NBC.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Spike Lee and Tracy Camilla Johns, Nov. 10, 1986

    She’s Gotta Have It was Lee’s first feature-length film, and it starred Johns as a sexually free woman in Brooklyn, N.Y. Showtime is currently in talks to develop the film into a TV series.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Oprah Winfrey, Dec. 19, 1988

    Oprah appeared on the cover after losing more than 60 pounds.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Arsenio Hall, Jan. 22, 1990

    After Hall’s TV show debuted in 1989, Jet called him the “prince of late-night TV.” Hall hosted the show for five years, and he returned to the late-night chair in 2013.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Clarence Thomas, July 22, 1991

    In 1991 President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the Supreme Court.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Mae Jemison, Sept. 14, 1992

    Jemison became the first African-American woman in space Sept. 12, 1992.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Kadeem Hardison and Jasmine Guy, May 10, 1993

    Our favorite HBCU couple graduated from A Different World when the show ended its run July 9, 1993.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Michael Jordan, July 12, 1993

    Jordan completed his first three-peat championship win in 1993 with the Chicago Bulls before deciding to retire and play baseball. He returned to basketball in 1995 and won championships with the Bulls at the end of that ’95-’96 season, and again in 1997 and 1998.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Nelson Mandela, May 23, 1994

    On May 10, 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Serena Williams, Sept. 27, 1999

    Williams became the first black woman to win the U.S. Open in 1999.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Tiger Woods, Dec. 4, 2000

    Throughout the 2000s, Woods was considered the world’s best golfer. He was also one of the richest black athletes in the world.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    J.L. King, May 3, 2004

    King is the author of On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of ‘Straight’ Black Men Who Sleep With Men.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Raisin in the Sun 2.0, May 17, 2004

    A star-studded cast revived Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play on Broadway, with Sean Combs portraying the lead character, Walter Lee Younger.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Jay Z and Beyoncé, May 31, 2004

    It might be a little hard to remember, but 10 years ago this power couple was very shy about their romantic relationship.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    John H. Johnson, Aug. 29, 2005

    Johnson—the founder of Johnson Publishing Co., which publishes Jet and Ebony magazines—died Aug. 8, 2005.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Richard Pryor, Jan. 9, 2006

    Jet remembered the life and legacy of the brilliant comedian, who died Dec. 10, 2005.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Barack Obama, Feb. 5, 2007

    Five days after this issue was released, on Feb. 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency in Springfield, Ill.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Michael Jackson, July 20, 2009

    Jet commemorated the life and legacy of the pop icon, who died June 25, 2009.

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    Courtesy of Jet Magazine

    Whitney Houston, March 5, 2012

    Jet remembered the life and legacy of the pop star and actress, who died Feb. 11, 2012.

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