Fierce

Oprah Winfrey Honors Breonna Taylor With Historic O Magazine Cover

In the twenty years since Oprah Winfrey established her periodical publication O Magazine, only she has ever graced the cover. For the first time in the magazine’s publication, a different face is now featured and it’s one we hope you continue to remember: Breonna Taylor.

The  26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician was murdered in the middle of the night on March 13 after being fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove. While initially, her death sparked outrage, it wasn’t until a few months later that the murder of George Floyd (a Black man also killed by the police) that a national reaction came about. The slow national reaction to her death and the demands for answers from her loved one’s ultimately initiated conversations about the care and concern offered to Black women in the United States and reminded those watching of how much work needs to be done to support them. And while the initial blast of the May BLM protests has waned, it appears Winfrey is determined to keep the fire going.

In a post about this month’s issue, Oprah reminded users we can’t be silent.

In an essay published on the O magazine site, Winfrey described the ways in which she felt she identified with Taylor. She also shared her own vision for helping honor Taylor’s life and the dreams the deceased 26-year-old had for herself.

“She was just like me. 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,” Winfrey wrote. “I think about Breonna Taylor often. She was the same age as the two daughter-girls from my school in South Africa who’ve been quarantining with Stedman and me since March. In all their conversations I feel the promise of possibilities. Their whole lives shine with the light of hopefulness. That was taken away from Breonna in such a horrifying manner. 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.

O magazine’s cover features a portrait of Taylor, created byAlexis Franklin.

The digital artist created the image from a selfie Taylor took while wearing her EMS shirt. The original selfie has circulated heavily with coverage on Taylor’s death. On the magazine cover, the words “Her life mattered” are written next to Taylor’s face.

According to an essay written by Franklin for O magazine, the young artist was inspired by Taylor’s power in the image. “Looking at [the source photo], I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that,” she wrote. “And there was a sparkle in Breonna’s eyes — a young Black woman posing in her Louisville EMS shirt, happy to be alive.”

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