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Beverly Johnson


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She was told she’d never be on the cover of Vogue. She proved them wrong. Beverly Johnson speaks to CNN’s Don Lemon.

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True Beauty: Secrets of Radiant Beauty for Women of Every Age and Color

One of the world’s top models, the first African American to appear on the cover of Vogue, reveals her beauty secrets, offering a unique program for stress reduction, nutrition, exercise, and more that offers helpful information for everyone.

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“You Can Do Something About AIDS” Benefit
June 13, 1988 – Club MK

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Beverly Johnson was a 21-year-old ingenue sleeping on a mattress on the floor of her midtown Manhattan apartment when she went into the photo studio with legendary photographer Francesco Scavullo 35 years ago this month.

The atmosphere, she remembers, was “magical.” “You could kind of feel it in the air during the shoot,” says Johnson. “I knew it was going to be a good picture.

But the rising model was stunned when she learned that an image from the session — of her in a simple, powder blue sweater and a Mona Lisa smile — would become the cover of Vogue in August 1974, making her the magazine’s first black cover model.

Johnson became a poster child for the American civil rights movement practically overnight, her name mentioned in the same breath as that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson (who was, all of a sudden, calling her to discuss race relations in America).

“Everyone was like, ‘Do you understand the significance of this?’ ” recalls Johnson, now 56. “They were making the comparisons with Jackie Robinson and what he did for the baseball league.” At the time, she says, she was only vaguely aware of what they were talking about.

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