Most people agree that the fashion world has a long way to go until it achieves racial equality. Magazines and runways could be way more diverse, BUT we've made some big strides since the first black model appeared on the cover of British Vogue in 1966. Before Naomi and Tyra became household names, there was a generation of women who paved the way. In honor of MLK day, here is a list of black supermodels who have helped the fashion industry inch towards equality.
The Somalian supermodel and activist has carved out an unconventional career for herself. Her gynecologist mother and diplomat father made education a priority, and she had no interest in fashion before she was discovered. After rising to fame in the 70s and 80s, she graced countless covers and was a muse for YSL's African Queen collection. She retired from the business in 1989 and married rocker David Bowie three years later. Her more recent activism has brought attention to women's rights in Africa.
Born in Buffalo, Beverly Johnson began modeling in 1971, when she was 19 years old. She started out at the Ford agency but was told she'd never get a cover because of her race. Undaunted, she moved to the Wilhemina agency. Not long after, in 1974, she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Over the course of her career she has appeared in countless magazines and in films such as The Parent 'Hood and Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns.