A host of writers, activists, and change-makers — including several Global Citizens — are portrayed in British Vogue magazine for its September edition celebrating the theme of “hope”.
The edition’s cover was shot by Misan Harriman, who struck a chord for his photographs documenting Black Lives Matter protests in the UK this summer, and is the first Black male photographer to shoot a cover in the magazine’s 104-year history.
Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford poses along with model and mental health advocate Adwoa Aboah on the front cover, with a further 18 activist portraits featuring on a fold-out cover page, and many more profiled inside.
Activist Aboah has graced the cover of Vogue several times, but it's a first for Rashford, who features in the “activism now” issue in recognition of his campaign against child hunger in the UK, which hit the headlines in June.
Driven by his own experiences of food poverty growing up, Rashford teamed up with the food waste charity FareShare and raised £20 million to keep vulnerable children fed while schools were closed during the COVID-19 lockdown that started on March 23 in the UK.
But thousands of families whose children are eligible for free school meals faced a new concern after lockdown eased: holiday hunger. The food vouchers given by the government to compensate during the school closures were due to stop when the school summer holiday officially began.
Thanks to a huge amount of publicity garnered by Rashford and an open letter he penned to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the government was forced to U-turn on the plan to cancel the vouchers and resume them for the duration of summer.
Rashford said of his decision to act: "If I didn't put myself out there and say, 'this is not okay and it needs to change,' I would have failed my 10-year-old self."
All the cover stars have made a huge difference with their work too. Aboah, who presented Global Citizen Live in London in 2018, is a 28-year-old supermodel who experiences depression and has spoken extensively about mental health care.
She helps others through her platform Gurls Talk, which she launched as a forum for young women to discuss their mental health and other issues in their lives.
Meanwhile, many of the activists featured have drawn attention to racism and a lack of education about race in Britain and globally.
For example, radio DJ Clara Amfo, who presented Global Citizen’s “One World: Together At Home” show on the BBC in April, also features in a series of 18 portraits in a fold-out cover.
During the Black Lives Matter protests in early June, Amfo used her BBC Radio One slot to speak passionately about racial injustice and in doing so brought, as Vogue author Afua Hirsh writes, “an anti-racism message to a new generation.”
Introducing British Vogue’s September 2020 issue, starring 20 inspirational activists dedicated to making a change. With @MarcusRashford and @Adwoaaboah_ photographed by @misanharriman, leading on the special fold-out cover: https://t.co/7rbRA0iXASpic.twitter.com/CEhRRXN7yF— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) August 3, 2020
Meanwhile, Reni Eddo-Lodge, who's 2017 book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race re-entered the best-seller lists in June, has gone a long way to helping more Brits understand the history of racism in the country. While Lavinya Stennett, recently profiled by Global Citizen, set up the Black Curriculum — a social enterprise bringing Black British history into schools.
Other issues are covered too. Climate activist Anna Taylor, who at just 19 has been leading the youth climate strike in the UK while studying, features inside. She’s joined by Vanessa Nakate, a 23-year-old climate activist from Uganda, who is helping to re-centre climate activism to focus on and include voices from African countries.
Some of the activists in Vogue have started movements that rippled around the world. They include Patrisse Cullors, a Californian activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter; and Tamika Mallory, one of the organisers of the Women’s March in 2017, which sparked a series of gender equality demonstrations in multiple countries.
Some stalwart UK campaigners feature too. The magazine profiles Patrick Vernon, a cultural historian who has worked to keep the injustice of the Windrush scandal in the limelight; Doreen Lawrence, a Labour peer and veteran anti-racism campaigner since the racist murder of her son Stephen Lawrence in 1993; and Yvette Williams who has fought tirelessly for justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
They are joined by others who have made powerful statements and drawn the world’s attention to overlooked issues.
Alaa Salah, for example, is a Sudanese student and anti-government protester from Khartoum. Her viral image and videos of her singing at protests brought attention to the women-led movement against the country’s regime.
And Alice Wong, a US-based disability activist, is improving representation through her Disability Visibility Project, which amplifies disabled voices in the media. While Claudia Walder in the UK is doing something similar through her magazine, Able Zine, which highlights ableism in the creative industries and provides a platform for young people with disabilities.
British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, has said using the September issue to focus on activism, rather than its usual fare of high fashion, was a “no-brainer” after the tumultuous events of 2020.
He said the issue was, at its core, “our show of thanks, as well as a rallying cry for the future."
He added: “When all is said and done, it’s clear that 2020 will be remembered as a tough year, but also as a moment of necessary change. One thing is for certain. The future starts now.”