The late 26-year-old, who was killed in her home by Louisville, Ken., police on March 13, is featured on the magazine’s September issue cover, marking the first time in the magazine’s 20-year history that Winfrey is not the cover star.
“Breonna Taylor. She was just like me. She was just like you,” Winfrey wrote on Instagram. “And like everyone who dies unexpectedly, she had plans. Plans for a future filled with responsibility and work and friends and laughter. I think about Breonna Taylor often. Imagine if three unidentified men burst into your home while you were sleeping. And your partner fired a gun to protect you. And then mayhem. What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.”
The cover was created by 24-year-old digital artist Alexis Franklin, who spoke with the magazine about designing the portrait.
“I am so happy to play a small part in this long-overdue, world-changing narrative on racial injustice and police brutality,” she said. “The original photo is one Breonna took herself and has been featured in the news many times. Looking at it, I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that.”
The idea for the cover came after protests erupted across the country in late May in response to the multiple police killings of unarmed Black people, including Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and others.
In the issue, Winfrey celebrates Taylor’s memory in her “What I Know for Sure” column, speaking with Taylor’s mother and speaking out on the fact that her killers still have not been charged.
“Not long ago, I spoke with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer,” Winfrey wrote. “She was having a particularly bad day dealing with the loss and the grief of knowing that her daughter is gone forever. Those of you who’ve lost loved ones know that the pain comes in waves and that any little thing can trigger it. A song. A scent. A word. A thought. The day I called, Ms. Palmer was dealing with the emotion of it all. She told me, ‘I can’t stop seeing her face. Her smile. It’s what I miss most about her. I still can’t grasp the concept of her being gone. It feels so surreal. I’m still waiting for her to come through the door.’”
Winfrey’s cover letter is also accompanied by another illustration of Taylor created by Janelle Washington, which shows a silhouette of Taylor that features the names of many Black women, girls and femmes who have been killed by police officers.
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