Aug. 1, 1974
Beverly Johnson made fashion history when she became the first Black model to appear on the American cover of Vogue magazine.
When her first managers told her that major magazine covers weren’t going to happen due to her race, she got new managers. She went on to make Vogue’s cover three more times. Within a year, every major American fashion designer began to use Black models.
“My dean gave me permission to model during my work semester, even though I was in the Criminal Justice Department. I don’t know whether I’d ever have become a model if he hadn’t let me do that,” she said.
“The only reason I went into modeling originally was to help out my family, because I knew that money gave you freedom.”
Her success led her to star in television and films, and write health and beauty books.
“There’s not a hair extension or a makeup artist,” she later said, “that can make me feel the way I feel when I give back.”