Naomi Sims, pioneering black model and businesswoman, dies at 61

Striking a pose for Ladies' Home Journal in November 1968 catapulted Naomi Sims, a pioneering African American model, to stardom and helped lay the groundwork for a fashion empire that lives on today. Sims, who will forever hold a spot in fashion history, died Saturday from cancer. She was 61 years old.

Often referred to as the first black supermodel, Sims' breakthrough in the white-dominated fashion industry came during the Civil Rights era. Sims overcame great odds, spending her early years growing up in the segregated South and then in a series of foster homes after her mother became ill.