Naomi Sims, considered by many to be the first black supermodel, died over the weekend following a long battle with cancer, according to her son, Bob Findlay. She was 61.

The Mississippi native grew up a foster child in Pittsburgh and broke into the modeling business in the mid-sixties after moving to New York City. After appearing on the covers of several high profile magazines, she became the first black woman to grace the cover of “Ladies’ Home Journal” in November 1968.

Later she appeared on the covers of Life, Cosmopolitan and Essence, sewing the seeds of what would become the Black is Beautiful movement.

Sims launched several successful businesses in the 70s, including a wig company for black women that became a multi-million dollar enterprise. She has also written several books geared toward black women, success and beauty – most notably “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman.”

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