(August 24, 2020) A portrait of Breonna Taylor covers the September issue of Vanity Fair. The 26-year-old emergency services worker was shot by police eight times in her own bed. Her death has still not resulted in charges against the Louisville, Kentucky police officers who were exercising a search warrant at the wrong address for a suspect who was already in custody. The portrait features Taylor in a flowing blue dress with a slit up the side highlighting her brown skin against the cerulean blue fabric.
Painted by Amy Sherald, whose portrait of Michelle Obama is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the cover is a stunning memorial to a young woman, full of grace and ephemeral beauty.
This powerhouse of a Vanity Fair issue was guest-edited by renowned writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of The Beautiful Struggle and Between the World and Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. Coates themed the issue The Great Fire.
“Whiteness thrives in darkness,” Coates writes in Vanity Fair. “So it was with the slave narrative. So it is with the cell phone.”
“I have not yet watched George Floyd’s murder in its entirety, but I have seen enough of the genre to know the belief in black people as disaster, as calamity, as a Great Fire upon the city, has not yet waned.”
“If you read anything this week, make it this [Vanity Fair] interview with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, as told to Ta-Nehisi Coates,” says New York magazine’s The Cut, “Palmer offers a full and intimate picture of Taylor’s life: how she’d always wanted to be a nurse; her love of the blues, chili, and older cars.”
“You won’t find any Hollywood actors on this September’s cover of Vanity Fair,” says Fashion Week Daily. “Instead the title has put an illustration of Breonna Taylor by artist Amy Sherald. Editor in chief Radhika Jones invited VF contributing editor Ta-Nehisi Coates to guest edit the issue, which explores art, activism, and power in the 21st century America,”
Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones writes, “Partnering with Ta-Nehisi under the banner of Vanity Fair has been an honor … He is the driving force of this body of work, both creator and collaborator. It was our shared goal to make a magazine that would capture the spirit of this time, and that it would be beautiful, a keepsake. An object to push back against ephemerality. A way to remember, and a sign of things to come.”