Miss Black America

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Claire Ford, 1977 Miss Black America, during a USO show, 1978.

The Miss Black America beauty contest is a competition for young African-American women. The pageant has garnered the support of artists, activists and performers including Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, and Oprah Winfrey. After 40 years, in 2009 the pageant had a "kick off" in Washington, D.C. to rebrand the competition. The first teen winner was Ashley Anglin. The first runner-up teen was Monet Jackson, a resident of Mitchellville, MD; and Destiny Welch, second runner-up and also an MD resident. The adult winner was DC native and MD resident, Miss Kamilla Collier-Mullin. The first runner-up Miss Cherie A. Bryant, a northern Virginia resident; and the second runner up was Miss Janesia Simmons in the adult pageant. It is known as the most divisive pageant in the world.


It was originally a local Philadelphia area contest to protest the lack of black women in the Miss America pageant. J. Morris Anderson created and produced the Miss Black America Pageant along with Brenda Cozart who organized and directed the pageant also serving as a beauty consultant for contestants and recruiter which started on August 17, 1968, at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlantic City.[1] With support from Phillip H. Savage, Tri-State Director of the NAACP, the pageant received nationwide press coverage as a protest against the Miss America Pageant, an event that Mr. Savage and other NAACP leaders had long condemned for exclusion of black women contestants.

In September 1977, NBC televised the Miss Black America contest,[2] the day before CBS televised Miss America.

The winners[edit]

Year Miss Black America Hometown and/or Home State
1968 Saundra Williams Pennsylvania
1969 Gloria O. Smith New York
1970 Stephanie Clark DC
1971 Joyce Warner Florida
1972 Linda Barney New Jersey
1973 Arniece Russell New York
1974 Von Gretchen Shepard Los Angeles, California
1975 Donzeila Johnson Pennsylvania
1976 Twanna Kilgore Washington, D.C.
1977 Claire Ford Memphis, Tennessee
1978 Lydia Jackson Willingboro, New Jersey
1979 Varetta Shankle Mississippi
1980 Sharon Wright Chicago, Illinois
1981 Pamela Jenks Boston, Massachusetts
1982 Susan Wells Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1983 Sonya Robinson Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1984 Lydia S.Garrett Columbia, South Carolina
1985 Amina Fakir Detroit, Michigan
1986 Rachel Oliver Burlington, North Carolina
1987 Leila McBride Denver, Colorado
1988 Regina Wallace Florida
1989 Paula Gwynn Washington DC
1990 Rosie Jones Bridgeport, Connecticut
1991 Sharmell Sullivan Gary, Indiana
1992 Marilyn DeShields Virginia, Richmond
1994 Pilar Fort Detroit, Michigan
1995 Karen D. Wallace Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1996 Basheerah Ahmad Choctaw, Oklahoma
2010 Ashley Anglin-Teen DC Metropolitan
2010 Kamilla Collier-Mullin, Adult DC Metropolitan
2010 Natasha Ashby - Teen Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2010 Donielle Turner, Adult Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2014 Alexandra Morton, Adult Baltimore, Maryland
2015 Jelisa Barringer, Adult Ohio
2016 Nicole Lynette Hibbert, Adult Delaware
2017 Brittany Lewis, Adult District of Columbia
2018 Ryann Richardson Brooklyn, New York

In popular culture[edit]

  • A short documentary on the Miss Black America pageant was produced by director Bayer Mack and released by Block Starz Music Television as part of its Profiles of African-American Success video series.[3][4]
  • In 1970, Curtis Mayfield released a track entitled "Miss Black America" on his debut album, Curtis.[5]
  • In 2021, Jennifer Holness released her documentary film, Subjects of Desire (2021) which documented "the cultural shift in North American beauty standards towards embracing Black female aesthetics"[6] and predominantly featured prep for the 2018 pageant, and interviews with its contestants. The film premiered at SXSW and was screened in the Documentary Feature Competition.[7]


  1. ^ "The Ritz-Carlton Hotel - Atlantic City" (PDF). Historical Timeline. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  2. ^ "Milestones". Miss Black America. Archived from the original on April 4, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  3. ^ "Miss Black America: The Pageant Changed History". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  4. ^ "Miss Black America Documentary". AASuccess.com. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  5. ^ "Curtis (Curtis Mayfield album)", Wikipedia, 2019-04-11, retrieved 2019-05-04
  6. ^ "Subjects of Desire". Subjects of Desire. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  7. ^ "2021 SXSW Film Festival Lineup". SXSW. Archived from the original on 1 April 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-09.

External links[edit]