On Thursday, Oprah Winfrey announced that Breonna Taylor will be featured on the cover of September’s Oprah Magazine. Winfrey has been on every O Magazine cover since its inception — sometimes with another star in her orbit, like Michelle Obama or Ellen DeGeneres — but this is the first cover she’s ever ceded entirely to another person in the mag’s 20-year history.
In a heartfelt essay posted to the Oprah Magazine website, Winfrey writes of Taylor’s life, dreams, and passions. “She was just like me. She was just like you. And like everyone who dies unexpectedly, she had plans,” she writes. “Plans for a future filled with responsibility and work and friends and laughter.”
Winfrey continues in demanding justice for Taylor’s life, explaining the driving forces behind her historic cover change. “We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice,” Winfrey writes. “And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine.”
The cover was designed by the 24-year-old digital artist Alexis Franklin, who detailed her process in crafting the digital portrait in an interview with the magazine. Franklin sought to repurpose a well-circulated photo that Taylor took herself. “Looking at it, I see an innocence, simple but powerful. It was critical for me to retain that,” Franklin says. “And there was a sparkle in Breonna’s eyes—a young Black woman posing in her Louisville EMS shirt, happy to be alive.”
Taylor’s killing has drawn widespread national attention in recent months, from the insensitive memeification of calls for justice to harrowing new details. Taylor was killed by Louisville police in the middle of the night on March 13, after three officers used a battering ram to enter her apartment. They fired more than 20 bullets into the apartment, and according to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, provided no medical attention for more than 20 minutes after she was shot.
Louisville banned no-knock warrants after widespread protests and fired one of the cops who shot into her apartment, but two others are still employed by the Louisville Police Department. None of the officers involved have faced criminal charges.