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A portrait of Breonna Taylor appears on the upcoming issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, a first for the joint venture between Oprah Winfrey’s production company Harpo and Hearst Magazines. A statement released by the magazine on social media reads,
For the first time in 20 years, Oprah has given up her O Magazine cover to honor Breonna Taylor. She says, “Breonna Taylor. She was just like you. And like everyone who dies unexpectedly, she had plans. Plans for a future filled with responsibility and work and friends and laughter. 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. And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine. I cry for justice in her name.” Breonna: This one’s for you.
The headline on the cover reads, simply, “Breonna Taylor,” followed by “Born June 5 1992,” “Killed by police March 13 2020” and “HER LIFE MATTERS,” as well as a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it.”
The portrait was created by the artist Alexis Franklin. See “How Oprah Magazine’s Historic Breonna Taylor Cover Came to Life,” in which Winfrey prefaces a first-person statement from Franklin with this introduction:
I have a collection of property ledgers from former plantations. Names, ages, and prices of people, listed along with cattle, shoes, wagons, and all other earthly possessions. The ledgers are framed in my library. When in need of fortification in times of crisis or challenge, and sometimes just to remind myself where I’ve come from, I read them aloud.
I feel a kinship. As a great-great-granddaughter of enslaved people, I know that in a different era my name would have been in someone’s ledger. Those ledgers come to mind when I see the names of Black women who were killed by police. Breonna Taylor and too many others like her. I see the names, I think of the ledgers, I feel the connection down the generations: the refusal to value Black women’s lives. And I feel a personal connection. Because I am these women.
These women are me.
As our nation confronts the abhorrent reality of police brutality against Black Americans, one thing is incumbent upon us all: to bear witness. With this month’s cover, we pay tribute to 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, fatally shot by police who stormed into her Louisville home on March 13. The image was created by self-trained 24-year-old digital artist Alexis Franklin. We asked her to take us through her process of capturing not just a likeness, but a soul. Below, Alexis shares her process, in her own words.
Keep reading here.
Some background from The New York Times: “Here’s What You Need to Know About Breonna Taylor’s Death.”
Previously: “Oprah’s O Magazine to end regular print editions after 20 years” per PBS News Hour.