Many continue to seek justice for 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor, who was shot several times in her home during a police “no-knock raid” in March. Vanity Fair is adding their voice to the fight by honoring Taylor with the cover photo of their justice-themed September issue with a portrait by Amy Sherald.
The issue titled “The Great Fire” was guest-edited by Ta-Neshi Coates and it centers on racial and social justice activism, art, and power. The lovely cover story, “A Beautiful Life”, was penned by Coates in the words of Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother who shared sides of her daughter the world did not know.
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“Drawing from a series of interviews with Palmer in Louisville, Coates retells Taylor’s story in a way that only a mother can,” the magazine shared in a news release. “Renowned photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier also traveled to Louisville to photograph Taylor’s family and boyfriend holding the engagement ring he was never able to propose with.”
We get to know Taylor more intimately, from stories of her birth to how she was not a troublesome daughter but had a sharp mouth to her dream of ultimately becoming a nurse.
Sherald, who did Taylor well with this portrait, catapulted to fame after her portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery. In a behind the scenes interview, Sherald shared how she got to create this stunning piece which she views as her quota to the “moment and to activism—producing this image keeps Breonna alive forever.”
“I made this portrait for her family,” said Sherald. “I mean, of course, I made it for Vanity Fair, but the whole time I was thinking about her family.”
The artist that Sherald is could not help but share the intricate personal details of the painting, saying that she called on Taylor’s spirit for guidance when deciding what color her dress should be.
She added a gold chain with the cross to symbolize Taylor’s faith and there was an engagement ring (which she never got to wear) on her finger as well.
“I wanted this image to stand as a piece of inspiration to keep fighting for justice for her. When I look at the dress, it kind of reminds me of Lady Justice.”
The posthumous cover has been met with mixed reactions as a video of another black brother being shot in a police incident in Wisconsin went viral a few hours before the cover was announced. The video has been met with violent clashes between the police and protesters.
Similar protests also erupted after the death of George Floyd and Taylor, which caused an international revolution.
It took Taylor’s tragic death for a new law to be implemented in Louisville that inhibits the police from barging into people’s homes for “no-knock warrant” searches without announcing themselves. They are now obliged to wear body cameras as well.
Sadly, none of the three officers have been charged with Taylor’s death and only one of them has been fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department.
In her monthly address to readers, Vanity Fair Editor-in-chief Radhika Jones said the magazine sought to make an issue that “would capture the spirit of this time, and that it would be beautiful, a keepsake. An object to push back against ephemerality. A way to remember, and a sign of things to come.”
The September cover of O, The Oprah Magazine will also for the first time feature another person on its cover – Miss Breonna Taylor.