Oprah Says 26 Billboards of Breonna Taylor Are "My Form of Protest"

McKenzie Jean-Philippe
·5 mins read
Photo credit: Maxwell Mitchell
Photo credit: Maxwell Mitchell

From Oprah Magazine

On July 30, we revealed our historic September cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, which featured a portrait of Breonna Taylor created by 24-year-old artist Alexis Franklin.

Now, Oprah and our O team are further amplifying Breonna Taylor's story and the fight for justice in her name by erecting 26 billboards of the cover across her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, beginning Thursday, August 6. Each billboard—one for each year of her life—features the cover image with a call to action that reads: "Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged. Visit UntilFreedom.com." The billboard also includes a quote from Oprah herself: "If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it."

Breonna Taylor's cover marks the first time in 20 years that the O of O was not featured on her magazine. Instead, Oprah chose to raise awareness about Breonna's tragic death: On March 13, 2020, she was shot and killed by Louisville police during a "no-knock warrant" raid. In the months since, just one of the three officers involved—Brett Hankison—has been fired, and neither he nor the two other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, has been arrested or charged in her death.

Photo credit: O, The Oprah Magazine
Photo credit: O, The Oprah Magazine

"Imagine if three unidentified men burst into your home while you were sleeping," Oprah wrote in her September "What I Know for Sure" column. "And your partner fired a gun to protect you. And then mayhem. What I know for sure: We can’t be silent."

The 26 billboards demanding justice for Breonna Taylor appear around the city of Louisville, including downtown, Interstate 65, the East End commuter route, and western Louisville.

Until Freedom, the organization cofounded by renowned activists Tamika D. Mallory, Mysonne Linen, Angelo Pinto, and Linda Sarsour, has the support of Breonna Taylor’s family. The group has recently taken up residence in Louisville to focus their energy on getting justice for Breonna. Their website offers instructions on how “to take action against injustice” and calls on Louisville and Kentucky officials to demand that the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death be charged.

On Instagram, Oprah shared a video of the billboards in Louisville, with a moving caption.

"The last time I spoke to Breonna Taylor’s mom, Tamika Palmer, she was having a particularly bad day dealing with the loss of her daughter. She told me, 'I can’t stop seeing her face. Her smile. It’s what I miss most about her…I’m still waiting for her to come through the door,'" Oprah writes.

She continued:

"Everybody who’s lost a loved one knows that feeling. For every mother and father whose child is out in the world, imagine getting a call in the middle of the night that your daughter has been shot in her apartment. And then you find out the people who killed her were police officers who should never have been there in the first place. What would you want to happen? Would you be content to hear five months later 'there’s an investigation?' And that no one has been held accountable for shooting your innocent daughter multiple times and letting her life bleed out? If not for the coronavirus, I would be out in the streets marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters. These 26 billboards, one for every year of Breonna’s life, are my offering. My form of protest. We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice."

Special thanks to Angela Orend for working with us to bring this vision to life.

To continue the fight for Breonna Taylor, you can also: 1) Sign the petitions.whitehouse.gov and Color of Change petitions to demand justice from officials. 2) Call Kentucky's attorney general, Louisville's mayor, and Louisville's interim police chief to demand the officers involved in Breonna's death are fired and charged with her killing. Visit UntilFreedom.com for guidance. 3) Donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to aid protesters fighting in Breonna's hometown. 4) Hashtag #SayHerName on social media—so no one forgets her: Breonna Taylor.

You Might Also Like