Friday, 7 August 2009



Naomi Sims | First Black Supermodel | Dead at 61

Source: |

Mon. 08/03/09

>> The title of "first black supermodel" has been handed out to Beverly Johnson, the first African American woman to score the cover of Vogue, or Donyale Luna, who Vogue named model of the year in 1966, but Naomi Sims, who died of cancer Saturday, at 61, held her own right to the title.

Halston referred to her as "the first [black supermodel]" in 1974: "She was the great ambassador for all black people. She broke down all the social barriers.” When modeling agencies turned her down in the late '60s, she went straight to photographers, finally convincing Gosta Peterson to capture her for the cover of The New York Times Magazine's Fashions of the Times supplement in 1967; the image is now appearing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Model as Muse" exhibit. Sims sent out the image to ad agencies, and within a year, she was earning $1,000 and had a national AT&T TV commercial campaign wearing Bill Blass.

She paved the way for the likes of Pat Cleveland, Beverly Johnson, gave up modeling after five years in favor of pursuing what became a multimillion dollar beauty empire, and thought of her race as an advantage: "It’s ‘in’ to use me, and maybe some people do it when they don’t really like me. But even if they are prejudiced, they have to be tactful if they want a good picture.”

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Author: Maya Angelou

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