100 Years of Powerful Covers from The Crisis Magazine

The Crisis was founded in 1910 by W.E.B. DuBois as the official publication of the NAACP. Within nine years it reached a circulation of 100,000. It was an important venue in its early days for African American authors, including Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Jessie Fauset. It also included powerful graphic covers by artists Aaron Douglas, Frank Walts, and others.

100 years after it started, The Crisis (subtitled “A Record of the Darker Races”) is still around and still producing stunning visual covers. Under the direction of art director Wayne Fitzpatrick, the now-quarterly magazine has featured cover illustrations by Edel Rodriguez, Mirko Illic, and more, while continuing the tradition of presenting provocative, pointed, and inspiring political messages.

A complete set of issues from 1910-22 is available at The Modernist Journals Project, where many of these covers came from. You can also see 100 years of complete scans of The Crisis at Google Books. And be sure to visit the current website of The Crisis.

Here are 12 favorite covers of The Crisis, dating from 1917-2012.

(Above): Winter 2012. Illustration: Edel Rodriguez, art director: Wayne Fitzpatrick.

1 1918 copy

May 1918. Illustration: Frank Walts.

1 ernie barnes may83 copy

May 1983. Illustration: Ernie Barnes, art director: O’Neal Abel.

1 Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 10.55.59 PM copy

September 1927. Illustration: Aaron Douglas.

1 Raymond E. Jackson copy

February 1930. Illustration: Raymond E. Jackson.

1 Crisis copy

May 1929.

1 1295988952578125 copy

October 1919. Illustration: Frank Walts.

1 1292953079936750 copy

March 1919.


Fall 2011. Illustration: Mirko Illic, art director: Wayne Fitzpatrick.

1 Zell INgram copy

March 1933. Illustration: Zell Ingram.

1 all2 copy

December 1926. Illustration: Aaron Douglas.

W.M. Farrow copy

April 1917. Illustration: W.M. Farrow.

Of related interest:

The Baddest Covers of All Time: The Black Panther Newspaper

The Covers of Jet Magazine, 1960s

5 Great Illustrated Martin Luther King Magazine Covers