Beyonce Knowles is breaking down the many barriers still blocking the greatness of African Americans today, by using her star power to shine a light on black excellence. Knowles made history by hiring 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot Vogue’s cover in its 126-year history. The magazine will feature “Queen B” on the cover of its September issue.
It is encouraging and inspiring to see African Americans coming together to support one another on a creative and influential platform. Anna Wintour, the editor and chief of Vogue Magazine will give Knowles “unprecedented control” over the September issue, which includes Knowles not giving an interview.
WHAT! No interview.
This is not the first time Knowles has sparked controversy, both politically and racially. Her visual album “Lemonade” featured the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown. Her halftime-show also sparked conversation when she and her dancers were dressed as Black Panthers from the Civil Right Movement. Additionally, Knowles headlining performance at Coachella shined a light on HBCUs and their support for the higher education of African American students.
The lineage of African Americans and Vogue Magazine, when it comes to photography and firsts, points to Gordon Parks, who was the first African American photographer to shoot for Vogue and Life Magazines, during the 1940’s, although he never landed the coveted assignment to shoot its cover.
Parks, like Knowles, was determined to shatter the stereotypes of what African Americans were “deemed” capable of accomplishing. Known as a “Renaissance man,” Parks, was also a writer, film director, and consummate musician and composer. And during the Civil Rights Movement, he used his camera as a weapon.
Knowles may have made it possible for Mitchell to be the first African American to shoot a cover for Vogue Magazine, but that door was opened for him by Parks. Knowles and Parks are perennial icons in the African American community and a testament to realizing one’s full potential. It is really sad that in 2018 blacks are still experiencing “firsts.” However, like Knowles, blacks must soldier on with the hope that there will be more seconds, thirds and so forth until the industry finally sees who we are – unbelievably talented and beautiful!
By: Suubi Mondesir
France, Lisa Respers. “Beyoncé’s Reported Vogue Takeover Is Peak Blackness.” CNN, Cable News Network, 31 July 2018.