The Root 100 - The Most Influential African Americans in 2020 - 98: Dana Scruggs

Oleg Dyachenko
·1 min read

Photographer Dana Scruggs' breakthrough coincided with an industry first: In the spring of 2018, she became the first Black woman in the 10-year history of ESPN's Body Issue to photograph one of its featured athletes-and was invited back for the magazine's 2019 edition. But 2018 marked another major first for Scruggs because her Rolling Stone cover of rapper Travis Scott was the first by a Black photographer in the magazine's half-century run, a milestone that she acknowledged was "sweet and bittersweet." Since then, her cover subjects have included Stacey Abrams, Janelle Monáe, Yara Shahidi and Mariah Carey-and Scruggs' was among 15 artist portfolios featured in Antwaun Sargent's acclaimed 2019 book, _The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion_. In 2020, she proved as passionate about advocacy as about her artistry, bravely leading a public callout of the Whitney Museum in August, which forced the revered museum to cancel an exhibition amid cries of exploitation after it purchased a series of works by Black photographers intended for the charitable initiative See in Black at a mere fraction of the market rate.