Oprah Winfrey is using the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine to spotlight someone else this month. Instead of her own smiling face on the cover, as it typically has been for two decades, there is a powerful portrait of Breonna Taylor with three bolded words: “HER LIFE MATTERS.”
“If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it,” says a quote from Winfrey that also appears on the September edition cover.
The demand for justice for Taylor — a 26-year-old Black EMT who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers on March 13 — has continued to escalate amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Taylor was fatally shot when police burst into her apartment, using a no-knock warrant, during a drug investigation. The warrant was in connection with a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend fired his gun, thinking it was a break-in, leading to police firing more than 20 bullets. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Taylor — shot eight times — struggled to breathe for at least five minutes after she was shot and received no medical attention for more than 20 minutes after she was struck.
Inside the magazine, Winfrey wrote, “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. And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine.”
Winfrey also said she feels a kinship to Taylor, writing, “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 also wrote of connecting with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. “The day I called, Ms. Palmer was dealing with the emotion of it all. She told me, ‘I can’t stop seeing her face. Her smile. It’s what I miss most about her. I still can’t grasp the concept of her being gone. It feels so surreal. I’m still waiting for her to come through the door.’”
The powerful cover image was created by self-trained 24-year-old digital artist Alexis Franklin.
In the magazine’s more than 20-year run, Winfrey has appeared on every cover. While she has shared the cover of the Hearst publication — she has always been part of it. The issue, out Aug. 11, is focused on anti-racism and white privilege.
Earlier this week, it was announced O magazine would end its regular monthly print editions with the December 2020 issue. It will instead be focusing on its digital efforts.
Many celebrities have been using social media to call for justice for Taylor since her story went viral in the wake of George’s Floyd’s death. More recently, as stars participate in the #ChallengeAccepted social media challenge, some — including Chelsea Handler — have used it as an opportunity to call attention to the injustice.
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