This is the first time anyone other than Oprah has appeared on the cover of the magazine since it was launched 20 years ago.
For the first time in its 20-year history, Oprah Winfrey's magazine will feature someone other than the renowned talk show host on its cover. The September issue of O: The Oprah Magazine is dedicated to the life and tragic death of feature Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman shot and killed by police officers during a no-knock warrant while she slept in her Kentucky home. Oprah shared a copy of the cover—which features young digital artist Alexis Franklin's illustration of a widely-shared photograph of Breonna—with fans on Instagram Thursday, along with an emotional note explaining why she chose to honor the late EMT in such a manner.
"Breonna Taylor. 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. I think about Breonna Taylor often. 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," Oprah captioned the post.
"And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of [Oprah Magazine]. The September issue honors her life and the life of every other Black woman whose life has been taken too soon," she added. Oprah further explained her decision to break the magazine's 20-year tradition in a statement on the magazine's website titled Why Oprah Gave Up Her Cover for the First Time Ever to Honor Breonna Taylor. The media mogul revealed that she'd spoken to Breonna's mother, Tamika Palmer, "not long ago" and that the devastated mother "was having a particularly bad day dealing with the loss and the grief of knowing that her daughter is gone forever."
"Those of you who've lost loved ones know that the pain comes in waves and that any little thing can trigger it. A song. A scent. A word. A thought. 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,'" Oprah recounted.
Explaining her desire to continue telling Taylor's story, the 66-year-old 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."
Oprah also reflected on the late 26-year-old's life and how she had dreams that now remain unfulfilled. "Breonna Taylor loved cars and treated her 2019 Dodge Charger like a trusted friend. Breonna Taylor loved chicken any way you could cook it. Breonna Taylor put hot sauce on everything, especially eggs. Breonna Taylor appreciated every kind of music and the dances that went along. Breonna Taylor treated all her friends like besties. Breonna Taylor was a force in the life of her 20-year-old sister," she wrote. "Breonna Taylor felt meaning and purpose in her work as an emergency room technician. Breonna Taylor was saving to buy a house. Breonna Taylor had plans. Breonna Taylor had dreams. They all died with her the night five bullets shattered her body and her future."
It’s been 134 days. We won’t stop fighting. #sayHERname https://t.co/YKdtf0uXJj— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) July 25, 2020
The TV show host called attention to how Breonna's death went unnoticed until the video of George Floyd's death sparked anti-racism protests across the nation. "Only in the wake of George Floyd's filmed execution was national attention brought to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, two and a half months after she was killed. Pleas for justice have fallen on deaf ears. As I write this, in early July, just one of the three officers involved has been dismissed from the police force. This officer blindly fired ten rounds from his gun, some of which went into the adjoining apartment," Oprah noted. "The other two officers still have their jobs. What Ms. Palmer cannot understand is this: 'The fact that no one has been charged. It was so reckless. They did all of this for nothing, and she lost her life.'"
As of June 23, Brett Hankison, one of the three officers involved in the MURDER of Breonna Taylor, had been fired by the Louisville Police Department. NO disciplinary action has been taken against Myles Cosgrove or Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, the other two officers involved. pic.twitter.com/n14NvBDD5h— Murderific True Crime Podcast (@MurderificBPC) July 28, 2020