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Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor Is The First Face Besides Oprah To Ever Grace The Cover Of O Magazine

For the first time in its 20-year history the cover of O magazine features someone other than its namesake, the one-and-only, Oprah Winfrey.

Another larger than life figure was chosen to grace the cover of O’s September issue: Breonna Taylor. 

Breonna Taylor, 26, was killed by Louisville, Kentucky police who forcibly entered her home in March. The officers were conducting a narcotics investigation and broke down the door of her apartment while executing a warrant on the night of March 13th. Taylor was shot eight times.

Winfrey unveiled the cover on Thursday via social media. She released a statement along with the announcement. 

“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. The September issue honors her life and the life of every other Black woman whose life has been taken too soon,” she said.

Alexis Franklin, the artist who created the painterly rendering of Taylor, used digital techniques to create the cover art based on a photo Taylor took herself. The photo has been much used to represent the late Taylor in the media. 

“Looking at it, I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that,” Franklin said of the original photo.

Since Taylor’s death, one of the three officers involved in the raid was fired, but none of them have been charged or arrested. 

In recent months, Americans have protested the handling of officers on duty in Taylor’s case. They demand justice for what civil rights advocates deem to be the state sanctioned murder of a black woman. 

Celebrities have been using their platforms to amplify protestors’ calls for justice and change— and keeping Taylor’s name alive has been critical in the effort to continue the national dialogue about civil rights.

That’s why Winfrey’s latest column accompanying Taylor’s cover issue is entitled “Why Oprah Gave Up Her Cover for the First Time Ever to Honor Breonna Taylor.”

She wrote, “We know how Breonna died. March 13. Louisville police storming into her apartment in the middle of the night. No uniforms. No ‘This is the police!’ Terrifying Breonna and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.”

Winfrey goes on to explain in simple terms what happened the night Taylor was killed. 

She discusses Taylor’s life, her love of cars and hot sauce, how she cared for her sister, and her future plans that were cut short as the result of systemic racism and egregious police misconduct.

Winfrey asks readers to, “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.”

Taylor as an icon represents the idea that something like this could happen to anyone, and that the people it happens to— are black people.

Winfrey wrote, “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.”

The column lists a number of calls to action for readers looking to learn more and get involved.

Here’s what Oprah recommends: Sign Change.org and Color of Change petitions to try Kentucky officials, call elected officials, donate to the Louisville Community Bail fund, and use the hashtag #SayHerName on social media “so no one forgets her: Breonna Taylor.”

Susan LaMarca

Written by Susan LaMarca