Hampton University graduate, screenwriter and actor Rebecca Jackson-Artis writes for CNN.com about the legacy of Playboy and its founder Hugh Hefner, which through hiring her aunt as the magazine’s first black centerfold in 1965, helped to establish a family legacy of strength and self-pride.
The minute I learned of her place in black history — or as I like to think of it, black “herstory” — I realized I come from women who are unapologetically self-confident about their bodies; even now, in their 70s, my aunts exude confidence about their beauty and femininity. My Aunt Janis, Jennifer’s identical twin sister, told me she worked at The Playboy Club with Jennifer to put herself through college to earn a degree. My Aunt Linda, along with my mother, Antoinette Jackson, talked about their roles in the black liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, wearing Afros and raising their fists as activists on behalf of black people.
Playboy didn’t help my aunts gain confidence — and that is something my aunts emphasized to me. They already had that. Playboy opened doors of opportunity for women like them, with revolutionary minds and who valued revolutionary philosophies, so those women could benefit professionally by working in an environment with resourceful men.