The Meanings Behind H.E.R.’s Black History-Themed Hoodie

When preparing for H.E.R.’s Variety cover shoot, stylist Wouri Vice was riffing ideas with photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis. As Juneteenth came into the conversation, he thought of the singer in a black hoodie with “8:46” embossed on it.

“Those who know, know — they will continue to fight,” he says. The number is the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck on May 25, 2020, killing him.

Fellow stylist David Rowan asked, “Why stop there?” and soon many more dates were added that Vice says are “pivotal for Blacks in the world.” Stylists the Griggs Brothers hand-stitched and embroidered the dates on the garment, like a quilt. “It’s the way our story is told: in quilting and cooking — but you can’t show cooking on the cover,” Vice says.

The 13 red Xs stitched into the hood represent the 13th Amendment, which in 1865 guaranteed the emancipation of slaves — although the amendment, as noted in Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th,” has also often been used to incarcerate Black Americans. “It has been something that has enslaved us as people for many years. It’s a little deep,” Vice says.

While many of the dates commemorate violence against Blacks, there is also some optimism: 1961 is the year Barack Obama was born. “He was the first Black president, so there’s hope somewhere out there,” Vice says. “He gave a lot of people a lot of encouragement to want change to happen and wish for a better future for all of us.”

Some of the dates might be painful, Vice acknowledges. But “when you sit and hear the stories, you think of how resilient and resourceful Black people have been over time. There are so many layers to who we are. We are destined for greatness, but these things have happened. And we will continue to strive no matter what.”

See below for the significance of the dates, and read the full cover story here.

The full list of significant dates and numbers follows:

1619 – First African slaves arrive in Virginia

1865 – Juneteenth

1711 – New York state law passed to sell slaves on Wall Street

1921 – Tulsa Race Massacre

1739 – Stono Rebellion slave revolt in South Carolina

1961 – Barack Obama born

1770 – Black colonist Crispus Attucks killed by British troops during the Boston Massacre — the first American colonist to die in the revolution

1992 – L.A. uprising following the acquittal of police officers who beat Rodney King

8:46 – Length of time Minneapolis police officer and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck in 2020

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