(click on all pix for larger images.)
There were cries (from some) of racial imagery, deliberately evocative images that called up long-held stereotypes. There were even more cries (much more), that the original people who brought up said links were "race-baiters," just looking to start problems.
See for yourself:
1933 KING KONG poster
And for the record, KING KONG, one of the very best movies ever made, was certainly treading on racial stereotypes that previously existed. Strange as it sounds, KING KONG was both racist (at least how we would define racism today), and shockingly progressive, by making a "read between the lines" argument for mixed racial romances. However, this image was not created by them.
1915 US ARMY recruitment poster
My friends, you can argue that Vogue was doing something similar to the original KING KONG, throwing the stereotype on its ear by using a widely admired black icon in the same pose, sort of a "you've come a long way, baby!" thing. You can argue they wanted to get a conversation started about how we view race, in particular when it comes to miscegenation. I'm not going to presume to know the hearts and minds of the Vogue staff, or Annie Liebowitz, the celebrated photographer.
BUT YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT THE VOGUE COVER WAS DONE IN COMPLETE IGNORANCE OF THE ICONIC AND PROVOCATIVE IMAGES OF THE PAST.
You just can't.