Breonna Taylor, the Black woman who was shot and killed by police while she slept in her home and has become a symbol in the protests against systemic racism, will grace the cover of Vanity Fair's September issue.
Taylor, who was 26 when she was fatally shot by officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, is immortalized on the cover in a stunning painting created by artist Amy Sherald.
"I made this portrait for her family," Sherald said in a behind-the-cover interview with Vanity Fair. "I mean, of course I made it for Vanity Fair, but the whole time I was thinking about her family…. Producing this image keeps Breonna alive forever."
Sherald, who documents the Black experience through her paintings, most famously painted a portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery in 2018. That painting produced another viral moment when Parker Curry, then 2, went stood awestruck in front of the image of the former first lady in 2018.
Presenting Breonna Taylor for Vanity Fair’s September issue, “The Great Fire.” Five months have passed since police killed Breonna Taylor in her own home, a violent crime that our September issue guest editor Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to a belief in Black people as a disaster, as calamity. “I don’t know how else to comprehend the jackboots bashing in Breonna Taylor’s door and spraying her home with bullets, except the belief that they were fighting some Great Fire—demonic, unnatural, inhuman.” Coates chose the "The Great Fire" as the theme for the issue, which assembles activists, artists, and writers to offer a portrait of hope in a world where the possibility of a legitimate anti-racist majority is emerging for the first time in American history. “Something is happening,” writes @tanehisipcoates, “and I think to understand it, we must better understand the nature of this Great Fire.” For his cover story, Coates tells Breonna’s story through the words of her mother. Also in the issue: an oral history of the historic days after George Floyd's death; a portfolio of creatives and visionaries who capture the spirit—and urgency—of the moment; director @ava DuVernay's conversation with revolutionary Angela Davis; and much more. Read “The Great Fire” at the link in bio now. Painting by Amy Sherald (@asherald).
A post shared by Vanity Fair (@vanityfair) on Aug 24, 2020 at 4:01am PDT
The artist told Vanity Fair her portrait of Taylor is her way of contributing to the activism that has come after the emergency medical technician's death. The cover includes details, such as the engagement ring Taylor's boyfriend purchased and planned to give her before she was shot by officers.
Taylor was killed on March 13 in a botched police raid on her home. She was asleep next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when three officers with a no-knock warrant busted through the front door as part of a drug investigation. Lonita Baker, the family's attorney, previously told TODAY that Taylor wasn't involved in any sort of drug activity.
The tragic incident led to no-knock warrants being banned in Louisville. The measure passed city council unanimously in June and was named "Breonna's Law."
The case sparked outrage around the world and went viral after the May 25 death of George Floyd. The officers in Taylor's death haven't been arrested, and her death has inspired protestors to take to the streets and social media to call for justice.
Taylor's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three of the officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — who they accused of "blindly firing" more than 20 shots into the apartment. Taylor was shot eight times.
Taylor and Walker had no criminal history or drug convictions, and no drugs were found in the apartment during the raid, the lawsuit states.
Vanity Fair's September issue is being guest edited by acclaimed author and contributing editor Ta-Nehisi Coates. It will take a deeper look into art, activism and power in the 21st century in the United States, according to a news release from the magazine's parent company, Condé Nast.
Coates authored "A Beautiful Life," the cover story on Taylor's life and how her death has galvanized people around the world to call for change. The story takes a look at the experience through the eyes of Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer.
"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 said 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."