Miss Black America
The Miss Black America beauty contest is a competition for young African-American women – essentially the black version of the popular Miss America pageant. 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 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. 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, the day before CBS televised Miss America.
During pageant week in 1991, Miss Black Rhode Island was raped by Mike Tyson in an Indianapolis hotel room. During pageant week in 2018, Miss Black America officials advised contestants to avoid rape by not interacting with men during the national activities. Many of the contestants in 2018 took to social media to express their disdain toward the experience. There were also complaints of alleged verbal abuse, extreme physical distress, and lack of proper accommodation.
|Year||Miss Black America||Hometown and/or Home State|
|1969||Gloria O. Smith||New York|
|1972||Linda Barney||New Jersey|
|1973||Arniece Russell||New York|
|1974||Von Gretchen Shepard||Los Angeles, California|
|1977||Claire Ford||Memphis, Tennessee|
|1978||Lydia Jackson||Willingboro, New Jersey|
|1980||Sharon Wright||Chicago, Illinois|
|1981||Yvette Cason||Washington, District of Columbia|
|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|
|1989||Paula Gwynn||Washington DC|
|1990||Rosie Jones||Bridgeport, Connecticut|
|1991||Sharmell Sullivan||Gary, Indiana|
|1992||Marilyn DeShields||Virginia, Richmond|
|1994||Pilar G. 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
- A short documentary on the Miss Black America pageant was produced by The Czar of Black Hollywood director Bayer Mack and released by Block Starz Music Television as part of its Profiles of African-American Success video series.
- In 1970, Curtis Mayfield released a track entitled "Miss Black America" on his debut album, Curtis.
- 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" 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.
- "The Ritz-Carlton Hotel - Atlantic City" (PDF). Historical Timeline. Retrieved June 25, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Milestones". Miss Black America. Retrieved July 5, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Miss Black America: The Pageant Changed History". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Miss Black America Documentary". AASuccess.com. Retrieved 2016-12-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Curtis (Curtis Mayfield album)", Wikipedia, 2019-04-11, retrieved 2019-05-04
- "Subjects of Desire". Subjects of Desire. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
- "2021 SXSW Film Festival Lineup". SXSW. Retrieved 2021-04-09.