Something extraordinary happened last Saturday. People got goosebumps when  Toni-Ann Singh was crowned Miss World. Why? Because that move made this beauty queen, part of the historic group of five black women to win all leading titles for the 2019 beauty pageant. Along with Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, Miss America Nia Franklin, and Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi.
black women pageant

Miss World 2019 Crowned – (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

It’s a really big deal, at its conception in the 1940s, women of color weren’t even allowed to compete in the Miss America organization, let alone take home any titles. “it took 30 years, in 1970 when Cheryl Browne became the first black women to step foot on the Miss America stage.” – Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin 

About Our 2019 Winners:

Miss America 2.0 Nia Franklin 

Originally from North Carolina and now representing NYC. The 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin is a talented 26-year-old composer. She is a classically trained opera singer and a strong advocate for the arts in schools. Nia Franklin’s story is one of courage. In 2011 Nia faced adversity when her father was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Nia Franklin stepped up to save her father by donating her stem-cells. She would then join the pageant to help pay for her schooling and continue fighting for her family. This is why it’s even more amazing when you find out her dad was in the audience watching her take the title on that faithful night. Nia Franklin is also the first contestant to win the pageant after the organization revamped the competition eliminating the swimsuit portion in pursuit of a more progressive Miss America Pageant.

Black Women

Photo courtesy of Miss America Organization

Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi

Representing South Africa, Miss Tunzi, the current Miss Universe winner, is an inspirational leader. The 26-year-old has launched a social media campaign against gender-based violence. Her ability to represent herself without alteration speaks to her confidence and vision for young girls. Her message, “I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.” spoken after being crowned for the 2019 title.

Miss Universe 2019

“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful.”- Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi

Oprah Winfrey even took to Twitter. To congratulate Miss South Africa winning the Miss Universe title and to share her sentiment with regards to Miss Tunzi’s outreach activism and leadership goals for young women.

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst

Put your hands together for another North Carolina native! Cheslie Kryst is a 28-year-old law attorney who does free legal work for prisoners who are wrongfully convicted or unjustly sentenced. She helps them in seeking reduced sentences. Cheslie Kryst also rocks her natural locks for the competition and believes that. “You don’t have to fit a certain mold in order to be successful in pageantry or other arenas.” – Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst. She hopes to inspire women of color to believe in themselves and take on more leadership roles.

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst – Photo by Business Wire

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst

“There were certainly examples that I was able to follow that inspired me like when Ursula Burns was CEO of Xerox. When Barack Obama was President of the United States.  I think seeing these figures were so essential to me as a woman, as a woman of color.” – Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst

Miss World Toni-Ann Singh

From Morant Jamacia, 23-year-old Toni-Ann Singh hopes to one day become a doctor and help others. She is a graduate of Florida State University with degrees in psychology and women’s studies. Miss Singh is not only the most recent winner of Miss World. But, she is also the fourth woman from Jamaica to take the title.

Black Women

“I always say if the door is open, I will walk through it.” – Miss World Toni-Ann Singh

Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris

Our youngest titleholder is Kaliegh Garris, at just 19 years of age. Kaliegh is a model from New Haven, Connecticut. She is also all about flaunting your natural curls and your authentic self. “You can’t be, what you can’t see you, and you have to have the courage in yourself to break bounds for other young girls.” – Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris

Black Women

Miss USA and Miss Teen USA – Photography by Rayon Richards

A Historic Win:

The current pageant titleholders stand in the company of great women who helped pave the way. Including Janelle Commissiong, who shocked the world as the first black Miss Universe in 1977. Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America in 1983. Let’s not forget Carole Anne-Marie Gist, the first-ever black Miss USA contestant crowned in 1990. And finally, Janel Bishop who would go on to become the first black Miss Teen USA the following year.

The Power of Representation:

It doesn’t matter if it’s your age, gender, race, or even a political party. It’s exciting and can feel good to be represented, especially in the media. Because this platform can subliminally dictate who is and isn’t acceptable in our cultural make-up. Making this 2019 pageant win, victorious, as it redefines western beauty standards, that was once a barrier for black women.

A reminder that beauty is not limited to one race and to help rid the notion of a token tolerance. Miss Universe recounts from her personal experience. “Sometimes you walk into a casting, or you walk into a job interview. And if you see one other person of color or one other black woman. You know it’s either you or her, it can never be both of you, because there is only one seat at the table. But now this proves that there can actually be four seats at the table; it can be all of us. It doesn’t have to be just one of us.” – Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi

Now that’s some black girl magic!

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