October 1971: Darine Stern
Nearly 18 years after its debut, Playboy finally featured an African American woman as its cover model.
The magazine had already featured two black Playmates, Jennifer Jackson (March 1965) and Jean Bell (October 1969). And in fact Bell had appeared, small and nearly cropped out, with a few other Playmates, on the cover of the January 1970 issue.
Somehow, model Darine Stern was considered controversial in 1971, eight years after Martin Luther King led the march on Washington and delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.