John Harold Johnson (January 19, 1918 – August 8, 2005) was an American businessman and publisher. He was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, and in 1982, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400.
John Harold Johnson was born in rural Arkansas City, Arkansas, the grandson of slaves. When he was six years old, his father died in a sawmill accident and Johnson was raised by his mother and stepfather. He attended an overcrowded and segregated elementary school. Such was his love of learning, he repeated the eighth grade rather than discontinue his education, since there was no public high school for African Americans in his community.
After a visit with his mother to the Chicago World's Fair, they decided that opportunities in the North were more plentiful than in the South. Facing poverty on every side in Arkansas during the Great Depression, the family made the move to Chicago, Illinois, in 1933 to try to find work and for Johnson to continue his education. Johnson entered DuSable High School while his mother and stepfather scoured the city for jobs during the day. He looked for work after school and during the summer as well, but without success. His mother was not even able to find any domestic work, which was generally available when all else failed. To support themselves, the family applied for welfare, which they received for two years until Johnson's stepfather was finally able to obtain a position with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Johnson himself secured a job with the National Youth Administration (NYA).