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Arts & Entertainment Popular magazines pay tribute to Breonna Taylor

Popular magazines pay tribute to Breonna Taylor

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After the tragic death of Breonna Taylor, publications across the country have used their platforms to demand justice for the 26-year-old EMT. 

Taylor was fatally shot eight times by police officers in her Kentucky home on March 13, 2020. The officers were granted a “no-knock” warrant and opened fire after Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired his gun first. Walker affirms he thought his home was being broken into because the officers did not identify themselves. 

Only one of the three officers, Brett Hankison, has been fired. Months later, and after many days of protests, there has still not been anyone charged with her killing.

Oprah Winfrey decided to honor Taylor by putting her on the cover of a special September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. This issue is the first in 20 years to not feature a photo of Winfrey on the cover.

Winfrey made a powerful statement for her “What I Know For Sure” column on why she chose Taylor to be on the cover of O magazine.

“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,” Winfrey said. “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.”

Alexis Franklin, a self-trained digital artist, designed the cover image of Taylor and described to O Magazine her creative process

“The original photo is one Breonna took herself and has been featured in the news many times,” Franklin explained. “Looking at it, I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that. And there was a sparkle in Breonna’s eyes – a young Black woman posing in her Louisville EMS shirt, happy to be alive.”

This was not the only publication to shine a light on Breonna Taylor. Vanity Fair also released a special September issue titled “The Great Fire”, centering a painting of Taylor on the cover. In the painting, Taylor stands alone in a turquoise dress and gold cross necklace. The right hand is on her hip while the left includes a delicate, yet heartbreaking detail: an engagement ring, representing the one Walker was planning to propose with. 

The issue features multiple interviews with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, written by award-winning author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. In the interviews, compiled together into one piece, Palmer recounts memories of Taylor and gives her perspective on the shooting. Palmer describes the shock over the news and recalls wondering why somebody would break into the house and try to hurt Taylor or Walker.

“[When] we see her body, it’s just tears and screams,” Palmer said. “I walk out the [funeral] home because everybody is just crying. And I am just so pissed off that she is lying there.”

The painting of Taylor on the cover of the Vanity Fair issue was created by the artist Amy Sherald, who also created the famous portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. She described her process in an interview with Vanity Fair

“She sees you seeing her. The hand on the hip is not passive, her gaze is not passive. She looks strong!” Sherald said. “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.”

Celebrities, publications and protestors all over the country are still demanding justice for Taylor, remembering her story and saying her name.

“With COVID happening, it feels like they want to just sweep this under the rug real quick,” Palmer said. “But we will not let this go.”

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