LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Breonna Taylor will grace the September cover of O magazine.
It will be the first time in 20 years the Oprah Magazine will not feature Oprah Winfrey on the cover, according to a release from the magazine.
The issue examines systemic racism and pays tribute to the 26-year-old woman killed in a raid on her south end apartment by Louisville Metro Police serving a no-knock warrant.
“If you turn a blind eye to racism you become an accomplice to it,” said an Oprah Winfrey quote beside a picture of Taylor on the cover of the magazine. "We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice," Winfrey wrote in a column inside on Taylor’s death.
Gayle King, Winfrey’s longtime best friend, Editor-at-Large for O, The Oprah Magazine and anchor of CBS this Morning, spoke to WDRB’s Gilbert Corsey about how the issue featuring Breonna Taylor came together.
“There was no hesitation, no let’s talk about it or have a meeting,” King said. “Oprah loved the idea, and we jumped on it.”
King explained the issue started first with a call to Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer.
“Oprah called Mrs. Palmer to get her thoughts on it and to discuss it with her to see if it would be okay. She liked the idea a lot too.”
Police killed the 26-year-old former hospital worker and Louisville EMT on March 13. Critics say LMPD botched the raid as officers found no drugs in her home and the facts for the no-knock warrant officers used to bust in the door around 1 a.m. were later called into question.
“For her to die in this fashion in her own home at the hands of police -- it was shocking,” King said. "If it wasn't COVID (Oprah) too would be in the streets saying Breonna Taylor's name."
Attorneys for Taylor’s family said her boyfriend fired one shot at officers thinking it was an intruder, and they fired back killing Taylor. Her death prompted national outrage and months of protests in Louisville with crowds calling for transparency, police reform and an end to systemic racial injustice.
"If we can shine a light on what Oprah believes should be justice in this case we are happy to do so," King said.
Kentucky's Attorney General and the FBI are still deciding whether to charge the officers involved in Taylor's death .
“For Oprah in particular what she pointed out is that it is very, very troubling…that there has been no arrest in this case,” King said. “It's just inconceivable.”
The magazine was driven to raise awareness about police brutality against Black Americans, after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Winfrey's "Oprah's What I Know For Sure Column" talks about the decision to honor Taylor's memory on the cover of O. Part of the column says, “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.”
Oprah’s editor’s letter also features a silhouette of Breonna Taylor by Janelle Washington, a Black papercut artist, with 89 names from the African American Policy Forum’s #SayHerName campaign. The campaign raises awareness of Black women, girls, and femmes who have died by police violence or while in custody. The magazine said names can be submitted for inclusion in the project by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cover is the work of self-trained 24-year-old digital artist Alexis Franklin. In the release, she says she's happy to play a part in the narrative of racial justice. "The original photo is one Breonna took herself and has been featured in the news many times. Looking at it, I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that,” Franklin says.
“Oprah has never ever given up the cover to put someone else on O, The Oprah Magazine. It's called O for a reason. She is our longtime cover girl, but she felt so passionately and so strongly about this story,” King said.
The magazine also examines systemic racism in “Hard White Truths” that asks readers about white privilege and what they are doing to dismantle the status quo. The issue also suggests anti-racist actions readers can take, including patronizing Black owned businesses, donating to organizations, signing petitions on Change.org and Color of Change demanding justice from Kentucky officials.
In her editorial, Oprah adds her voice to those calling for justice for Breonna Taylor. “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. The other two officers still have their jobs," she says. “The fact that no one has been charged. It was so reckless. They did all of this for nothing, and she lost her life.”
In the release, the magazine also suggests readers go to the StandWithBre.com website and "call Kentucky's attorney general, mayor, governor, and the public integrity unit of the Louisville Metro Police Department to demand the officers involved in Breonna's death are fired and charged with her killing."
The magazine also encourages donations to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to aid protesters in Louisville, and it encourages the use of the hashtag #SayHerName on social media.
The September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, is on newsstands Aug. 11.
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