Miss Black USA Pageant

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The Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant is a national scholarship competition for young women of African descent that was founded in 1986 by Karen Arrington.[1][2] While Ms. Arrington has a long-standing history of hosting a national Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant, her system has not been exclusive in doing so consecutively. As indicated by the chart below, there have been some years where "no pageant was held" by Ms. Arrington's State of Maryland organized non-profit, for example in years such as 1998, 1999 and 2000. However, similar to Miss USA and Miss America both being national systems, there have been other non-profits to host national scholarship pageants to celebrate Black women, with documented queens.

The Miss Black USA Pageant System founded by Ms. Arrington is a non-profit corporation in the state of Maryland, recognized under the 501(c)3 code of the Internal Revenue Service. The current titleholder under her pageant system is Ariel Thompson of Kentucky, who was crowned on August 6, 2023.

History and former titleholders[edit]

The first titleholder was Tamiko Gibson, representing Maryland, who was crowned Miss Black USA 1987 at the JW Marriot in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 1987.[3] Gibson would later complain that she had been improperly dethroned in May 1988 and received none of the promised prizes.[4][5]

On August 23, 2003, Elizabeth Muto won the pageant, which was held in Miami.[6] Muto returned her crown later that year because she was unhappy with the contract that the pageant asked her to sign, which would have made them her exclusive publicist, agent and manager.[6]

State pageants[edit]

Each year, state competitions are held across the nation including Alabama, Arizona,[7] California,[8] Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa,[9] Massachusetts,[10] Mississippi,[11] New York,[12] North Carolina,[13] Ohio,[14] Oregon,[15] South Carolina,[16] Tennessee,[17] Virginia[18] and Washington.[19] The Miss Black USA organization licenses the state pageants. Women from areas where a state pageant is not held may apply as a delegate-at-large.


Year Name State Notes
1987 Tamiko Gibson Maryland Crowned June 6, 1987, in Washington, D.C.
1988 Melanie Elaine Rainey
1989 Leslie Elizabeth Waddell (later Ezina LeBlanc) Michigan Crowned in College Park, Maryland.[20] (*Later dethroned and replaced by first runner-up, Elizabeth Regina Wallace of Florida)[21]
1990 Clarissa Lester South Carolina
1991 Tarsha Whitaker Houston
1993 Ebony Warren Florida
1994 Deya Smith Connecticut
1995 Sheila Mutumba Rugege Louisiana
1996 Dawn Moss Maryland
1997 Caroline Mack North Carolina
1998 Alicia Hughes Texas Crowned in Houston, Texas, on August 22, 1998.[22](Pageant hosted by USA Metroplex Pageant Systems, Inc.)[21]
1999 No pageant held
2000 No pageant held
2001 Lisa Marie Miree Ohio Crowned March 24, 2011, in Birmingham, Alabama.
2002 No pageant held[5]
2003 Elizabeth Muto Nevada Crowned August 23, 2003, in Miami. Returned crown four months later.[6]
2004 No pageant held[5]
2005 Celi Marie Dean Minnesota Crowned August 7, 2005, in Washington, D.C.
2007 Kalilah Allen-Harris Tennessee Crowned June 1, 2007, in The Gambia.[23]
2008 Kristen E. White Georgia
2009 Shayna Y. Rudd Pennsylvania Crowned August 3, 2009, in Washington, D.C.[24]
2010 Osas Ighodaro Connecticut Crowned August 9, 2010, in Washington, D.C.[25]
2011 Ocielia Gibson Texas Crowned August 8, 2011, in Washington, D.C.[26][27]
2012 Salena Watkins New York Crowned August 13, 2012, in Washington, D.C.[28]
2013 Amanda McCoy North Carolina Crowned August 12, 2013, in Washington, D.C.[29]
2014 Jasmin Alexander Colorado Crowned August 10, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
2015 Madison Gibbs North Carolina Crowned August 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C.[30]
2016 Tonille Simone Watkis Connecticut Crowned August 7, 2016, in Washington, D.C. [31]
2017 Daphne Marcelle Lee New Jersey Crowned August 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
2018 Kelsi Alexandria Horn* Michigan Crowned August 12, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (*Later dethroned and replaced by first runner-up, Kelli Abernathy of Alabama)
2019 TeKema Balentine Wisconsin Crowned August 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
2020 No pageant held
2021 Myja Gary Virginia Crowned August 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
2022 Tahira Gilyard New York Crowned August 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
2023 Ariel Thompson Kentucky Crowned August 6, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Local and State winners[edit]

Miss Black USA state and local delegate winners and contestants have gone on to successful careers in entertainment, law, education, medicine and other arenas. Some of the state and local pageant's winners include:

  • Rev. Deidra Avery, MDiv. (Miss Black Ohio 1993) – Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Kia Talein Anderson (Miss Black Maryland 1992 Miss Black USA First Runner-up 1993) – Award-Winning R&B/Gospel Recording artist, radio and TV Personality, actress and model.


  • Dr. Lynette Danley-Land (Miss Black Iowa USA 1995) – College professor, author and speaker.
  • Valorie Burton (Former Miss Black Texas USA 1995) – Former co-host of Bishop TD Jake's Potter House, life coach and author.
  • Kemba Cofield (Miss Black Kentucky USA 1996) – Jazz recording artist
  • Arnecia (Bradley) Williams (Miss Black Alabama USA 2007) – US Army Engineer, Actress, and Motivational Speaker
  • Chloe Johnson (Miss Black Colorado USA 2011) – Television personality, model and dancer.
  • Kade Henderson (Miss Black New York USA 2015, Community Ambassador Award Recipient) Brand and Wardrobe Stylist and Digital Merchant
  • Ashley Jones (Miss Black Michigan USA 2015, Top 15 Miss Black USA 2015 national pageant and Community Ambassador Award Recipient) actress, model, brand ambassador, host www.theashleymarie.com
  • Melba M. Furlow (Miss Black Florida USA 1996) – Former Christian Radio Talk show host, author, college professor, & former student of Iyanla Vanzanthttp://www.floridafamilynetwork.com/melba-furlow-herringtonhttp://www.jaxpubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/Biography-Vertical-Files-List-Dec2014.pdf
  • Daphne Marcelle Lee (Miss Black New Jersey USA 2017) Professional Ballerina, Activist, Model, Brown Girls Do Ballet, MFA Hollins University, BFA Ailey/Fordham University, www.daphnemlee.com
  • Yasha Clark (Miss Black Louisiana USA 2019) Personal Injury Attorney, Model, Author www.justcallyasha.com


  1. ^ Miss Black USA
  2. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney, ed. (2011). Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture. Greenwood. p. 122.
  3. ^ Allen, Freddy (27 August 2012). "New Miss Black USA 'Ready' for the Future". BlackPressUsa. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  4. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (5 August 1988). "Black Pageant Under Fire". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Zak, Dan (10 August 2005). "Miss Black USA pageant bumpy but it's refocusing". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Unhappy Miss Black USA returns her crown". South Florida Business Journal. 8 December 2003. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  7. ^ http://www.missblackarizona Arizona
  8. ^ http://www.missblackcalifornia.com California
  9. ^ http://www.missblackiowausa.org Iowa
  10. ^ http://www.missblackmass.org Archived 2010-06-05 at the Wayback Machine Massachusetts
  11. ^ Mississippi
  12. ^ http://www.beautys-ink.com New York
  13. ^ http://www.noireproductions.com/missblacknorthcarolina.htm North Carolina
  14. ^ http://www.missblackohiousa.com Ohio
  15. ^ http://www.missblackoregon.org Oregon
  16. ^ http://www.missblacksc.org South Carolina
  17. ^ http://www.missblacktennessee.com Tennessee
  18. ^ http://www.houseofl.org Virginia
  19. ^ http://www.missblackwashington.org Washington
  20. ^ "Miss Black USA". Jet. 16 January 1989. p. 54.
  21. ^ a b Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 1990-07-09.
  22. ^ "Miss Black USA". Jet. 28 September 1998. p. 22.
  23. ^ Stuart, Shantiqua S. (8 August 2007). "Miss Black USA 2007 Speaks Candidly to Black Voice News". Black Voice News. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  24. ^ Brown, DeNeen L. (5 August 2009). "Meaning of Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant Runs Deep". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  25. ^ "Miss Black Connecticut Crowned Miss Black USA® 2010 in the Nation's Capital" (Press release). Upper Marlboro, Maryland: PR Newswire. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  26. ^ "2011 Miss Black U.S.A., Presented by Calgon, Crowns Winner in Washington, D.C." Business Wire. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  27. ^ Nicholson, Eunice. "Dallas' Ocielia Gibson speaks about reign as Miss Black USA". Dallas South News. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  28. ^ "Salena Watkins crowned Miss Black USA 2012". WJLA News. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  29. ^ Watson, Andrea V. (21 August 2013). "Amanda McCoy Wins Miss Black USA". Jet. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  30. ^ Elz, Kai (14 August 2015). "Miss Black USA 2015 Crowned". Chicago Defender. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  31. ^ Tonille Watkis Crowned Miss Black USA 2016