Breonna Taylor, the Black woman who was shot and killed by police in her home and has become a symbol in the protests against systemic racism, will grace the cover of Vanity Fair’s September issue.
Taylor, who was 26 when she was fatally shot by officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, is immortalized on the cover in a stunning painting created by artist Amy Sherald.
“I made this portrait for her family,” Sherald said in a behind-the-cover interview with Vanity Fair. “I mean, of course I made it for Vanity Fair, but the whole time I was thinking about her family…. Producing this image keeps Breonna alive forever.”
Sherald, who documents the Black experience through her paintings, most famously painted a portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery in 2018. That painting produced another viral moment when Parker Curry, then 2, went stood awestruck in front of the image of the former first lady in 2018.
The artist told Vanity Fair her portrait of Taylor is her way of contributing to the activism that has come after the emergency medical technician’s death. The cover includes details, such as the engagement ring Taylor’s boyfriend purchased and planned to give her before she was shot by officers.
Taylor was killed on March 13 in what her family has called a “botched” police raid on her home. She was asleep next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, at around 12:40 a.m. when three officers with a no-knock warrant busted through the front door as part of a drug investigation. Lonita Baker, the family’s attorney, previously told TODAY that Taylor wasn’t involved in any sort of drug activity.
The tragic incident led to no-knock warrants being banned in Louisville. The measure passed city council unanimously in June and was named “Breonna’s Law.”
The case sparked outrage around the world and went viral after the May 25 death of George Floyd. Protestors across the U.S. have to take to the streets and social media calling for the Louisville officers involved in the raid to be arrested and charged.
Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three of the officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — who they accused of “blindly firing” more than 20 shots into the apartment. Taylor was shot eight times.
Taylor and Walker had no criminal history or drug convictions, and no drugs were found in the apartment during the raid, the lawsuit states.
Vanity Fair’s September issue is being guest edited by acclaimed author and contributing editor Ta-Nehisi Coates. It will take a deeper look into art, activism and power in the 21st century in the United States, according to a news release from the magazine’s parent company, Condé Nast.
Coates authored “A Beautiful Life,” the cover story on Taylor’s life and how her death has galvanized people around the world to call for change. The story takes a look at the experience through the eyes of Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.
“Drawing from a series of interviews with Palmer in Louisville, Coates retells Taylor’s story in a way that only a mother can,” the magazine said in a news release. “Renowned photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier also traveled to Louisville to photograph Taylor’s family and boyfriend holding the engagement ring he was never able to propose with.”