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Breonna Taylor cover for Vanity Fair September Issue

Source: Amy Sherald / Vanity Fair

We knew when Vanity Fair announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates would be guest editing the September issue that he would do incredible things, but we never imagined he would do this.

This morning Vanity Fair revealed their September cover, a striking Amy Sherald rendering of Breonna Taylor. Sherald is known for her work documenting contemporary Black experience through paintings. Her only other commissioned work is her 2018 portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery. Sherald calls her cover a contribution to the “moment and to activism.” Some details you should pay attention to when observing Sherald’s portrait of Taylor are her gold cross chain necklace and the engagement ring that Taylor’s boyfriend bought her, which she never had a chance to wear.

Coates, who penned the cover story, took to Instagram to reveal the cover and discuss the theme he selected for the issue, “The Great Fire.”

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.

History is being made. Our voices are being heard. Our stories are being told. We are so grateful to Coates for this work of art which will continue to help motivate us all as we fight for justice for Breonna Taylor and her family and so many other families like hers, whose loved ones have had their lives stolen by white supremacy.

Read “A Beautiful Life” by Ta-Nehisi Coates in Vanity Fair’s September issue and on


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