MAINSTREAM INSTITUTIONS have responded in a variety of ways to the nationwide focus on race, racial justice, and policing. Time magazine’s reaction has been to pair its news coverage of the unfolding events with covers by African American artists. Charly Palmer is the latest tapped for the assignment.

In the wake of protests following the murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of white vigilantes in Georgia, Time has turned to artist Titus Kaphar to visualize the pain of black mothers losing their children (June 15), and photographer Devin Allen, who for his second cover for the magazine, brought attention to the black transgender community, which has been vocal in the protests (June 22/June 29).


“In Her Eyes” by Charly Palmer is featured on the July 6/July 13, 2020 issue of Time magazine.


A painting by Atlanta-based Palmer graces the magazine’s “America Must Change” edition. The special July 6/July 13 double issue examines racism in America. The cover illustration depicts a nine-year-old girl (the daughter of a friend) and symbolically reflects what she has seen—America’s dismal record on race, both historic and contemporary injustices. The painting is titled “In Her Eyes.”

Created with vibrant, joyous colors, the image has a sober message of hope and peril. The layered work is grounded by a bountiful gathering of flowers, bringing to mind both notions of beauty and mourning. The image is overlaid with white stars and stripes, forming an abstracted American flag and introducing its loaded symbolism.

Palmer’s longstanding practice is dedicated the black history and culture and exploring the experiences of African Americans. He is an artist, graphic designer, and professor, who most recently taught at Spelman College. Born in Fayette, Ala., and raised in Milwaukee, Wisc., he studied at the American Academy of Art and School of Art Institute in Chicago.

Another recent commission is the cover of John Legend’s new album “Bigger Love.” The artist contributed an image of Legend with a bed of flowers surrounding his neck and shoulders. The format is similar to his approach for the Time cover.

Palmer began introducing flowers into his work after his mother died in 2008. “They represent life, death, love, beauty and joy,” he told Time.

Additional paintings by Palmer are included inside the issue. “What’s Happening Right Now in America Is a Start. But There’s No Quick Fix for White Supremacy,” a report by Damon Young, author of “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays,” features Palmer’s “Eminent Domain.” The painting references the irreparable damage government take over to build interstate highways has done to black communities.

“In my 60 years on this earth, so much has changed; however all too much has remained the same. …Now, as a man, I am concerned for my own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I worry about the Black community as a whole.” — Charly Palmer

CHARLEY PALMER, “Baldwin Blooms,” 2020 (acrylic on canvas). | © Charly Palmer


“Remember George Stinney” pays homage to the 14-year-old who was executed in 1944 by the state of South Carolina for a murder he didn’t commit. The painting accompanies “America Is in Crisis. But Some of Us Have Never Known Anything Different,” by Jaquira Diaz. She explores her intersectional identity and begins the essay by recounting her experience being pulled over by police in a wealthy white suburb.

“Baldwin Blooms” illustrates “James Baldwin Insisted We Tell the Truth About This Country. The Truth Is, We’ve Been Here Before” by Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. He is the author of “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul” and the forthcoming book “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.”

“In my 60 years on this earth, so much has changed; however all too much has remained the same,” Palmer told Time. “As a Black child of the mid-’60s, my parents did all they could to shield me from the horrors of racism, especially through the unconditional love and vigilant protection of my mother, Irma Walker. They shielded me from the worst of the hate the world had in store for people who look like me. Now, as a man, I am concerned for my own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I worry about the Black community as a whole.”

Palmer added: “For the past 25 years, I have been on a mission through my art to sound the alarm. I hope that this cover reflects that concern. My message is not white hate. It is resounding Black love.” CT


FIND MORE about Charly Palmer on his website

FIND MORE about Charly Palmer’s cover for Time


CHARLEY PALMER, “Remembering George Stinney,” 2020 (acrylic on canvas). | © Charly Palmer


CHARLEY PALMER, “Eminent Domain,” 2020 (acrylic on canvas). | © Charly Palmer


Charley Palmer has illustrated several children’s books including “Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song” and “I Can Write the World (Ava Murray Writes the World)” and, most recently, “My Rainy Day Rocket Ship” and “There’s a Dragon in My Closet.” A new title, “The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History,” is forthcoming in September.


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