Black Women Who Slayed History: Beverly Johnson

This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black woman who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor Beverly Johnson.

Before Naomi Campbell and before Iman there was Beverly Johnson: the first black women to appear on the cover of Vogue.

Berevly Johnson grew up in Buffalo, New York, and for a hot second thought she wanted to be a lawyer.

While studying criminal justice at Northwestern University, one of her friends suggested she try out modeling over summer break as a way to make a little extra money on the side.

You know college students, they’re always broke.

While for most people, this plan would have resulted in slew of semi-embarrassing photo shoots, Beverly Johnson quickly booked an assignment with Glamour magazine.

Still, getting an agent proved difficult.

“Everyone turned me down,” Beverly Johnson explained. “The Eileen Ford model agency said I was too heavy. Then three days later, they called me back and said, ‘Oh you lost so much weight!’ but I hadn’t lost a pound.”

But she didn’t give up and three years later, she found out she was going to be on the cover of Vogue.

She was excited until she found out she would also be the first black woman to ever be on the cover of Vogue.

Then she was kind of pissed.

“You mean there’s never been a woman of colour on the cover of Vogue magazine?” Beverly remarked. “Are you kidding me? We’re in the 1970s.”

From then, she went on to become the first black woman to appear on the cover of the french edition of Elle and helped make the fashion industry accept models who were’t tall, leggy, American apple pie-looking blondes.

Pretty boss.

For more on Beverly Johnson, click here.

And for more black women who slayed history read:

Black Women Who Slayed History: Diane Nash
Black Women Who Slayed History: Shirley Chisholm
Black Women Who Slayed History: Ida B. Wells


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