Breonna Taylor Appears on Cover of Vanity Fair Issue Edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Aqua magazine cover
Vanity Fair magazine cover featuring Breonna Taylor

A stunning portrait of Breonna Taylor graces the cover of next month’s Vanity Fair, guest-edited by renowned author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The September issue of Vanity Fair features a cover illustration by American painter Amy Sherald and a story by Coates detailing Taylor’s “beautiful life” and March killing as told by her mother, Tamika Palmer. In a series of interviews conducted in Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Palmer remembered her oldest daughter as “the family glue” that “has a personal relationship with everybody.”

” … even at 26 years old, she is pretty much the glue,” Palmer said. “And she is bossy. She don’t care what is happening, she is going to make sure we get together and have a game night or have a cookout or have something, because we all tend to get so busy and consumed with work and whatever. … All the kids, the younger kids, or even the kids her age, looked up to Breonna.”

Palmer also recalled the day she learned that Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, had been killed by police, who shot her in her home on March 13. Around the country, people continue to demand consequences for Jon Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting — none of whom has been charged.

“She was a hard worker,” Palmer said. “If she missed work, something was really wrong. She loved being in the hospital, she loved her job, and she loved the people she worked with. Clearly, they loved her. They would always be leaving her little notes about them loving her and loving to work with her. Even when she passed, some of them came to the funeral.”

One of the many seeking justice for Palmer’s family is entertainment luminary Oprah Winfrey, who spotlights Taylor on the September cover of O magazine. The O cover image by Alexis Franklin later appeared on 26 billboards across Louisville calling for Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove to be “arrested and charged.”

Last month, “Black Is King” mastermind Beyoncé wrote a powerful letter urging Kentucky’s attorney general to hold all three officers “accountable for their actions” and “demonstrate the value of a Black woman’s life” as thousands took to the streets demanding justice for Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and other victims of racial violence.

“On the one hand, I’m ecstatic that these people are standing up and demanding justice and saying her name,” Palmer told Vanity Fair. “On the other hand, I don’t want people to be hurt. I don’t want y’all to tear up the city. We still got to live here. And still I understand the anger. Breonna was everybody’s sister and daughter. As easily as this happened to Breonna, it could’ve been anybody else’s child.”

The latest edition of Vanity Fair, titled “The Great Fire,” also includes an interview with cover artist Sherald, known for her famous 2018 painting of First Lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery. Additional art by photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier is featured in the September publication as well.

“I made this portrait for her family,” Sherald said of the magazine cover. “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.”


(ARticle written by Christi Carras)