Pioneer black model, Naomi Sims, dies at 61

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This May 1970 file photo shows model Naomi Sims in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Sims, the first black fashion model to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, has died. She was 61.

Sims’ son Bob Findlay tells The New York Times that she died Saturday of cancer in Newark, New Jersey.

Sims attained success at the same time that the Black is Beautiful movement was taking hold. She is sometimes said to have been the first black supermodel.

When agencies said her skin was too dark for a career in modeling, Sims approached photographers directly. Before long, she was modeling for top designers. The Ladies’ Home Journal cover came in 1968.

Sims gave up modeling after five years and launched her own wig-making business geared toward black women. It later became a multimillion-dollar beauty company.

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For more on Naomi Sims, check out Essence magazine’s slideshow.