On Sampleface a few days ago, I featured a piece about 2022 being the year of Duke Ellington. Well, did you know there was an unrelated magazine called Duke which featured him on one of its 6 covers? But what was it all about and why did it only run for 6 editions in the 1950s? Ashawnta Jackson explored this for JSTOR:
Duke magazine aimed to celebrate the good life—leisure, ladies, art, and pleasure—for the era’s growing Black middle-class. It would, as literature scholar Kinohi Nishikawa explains, “not be catering to strikers, protestors, or readers otherwise committed to following developments in the civil rights movement.” This was a magazine that was consciously committed to showing Black life that was free of strife, or at least appealed to readers who could, from time-to-time, block that world out. “We have no causes and no axes to grind,” one of the magazine editors explained, “except to bring moments of pleasure to he-men and their female friends of like mind with an amusing delightful package of assorted goodies.”
While Duke was positioned as a “Black Playboy”, it wasn’t until 1973 that a successor to that specific moniker came to print, entitled Players. But that’s for another day.