The year 2019 has definitely been one for the books for Black women in beauty pageants. With South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi being crowned Miss Universe 2019, now all Black women reign in the four major pageants for the first time ever.
Last week, Tunzi joined the record-breaking history with 2019 Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, 2019 Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, and 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin who holds the crown in their respective pageants.
It was really history worth celebrating as just winning top pageants was challenging for Black women due to rampant discrimination. It was only in 1977 that a Black woman, Janelle Commissiong from Trinidad & Tobago, won the Miss Universe. Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America crowned in 1983, Carol Anne-Marie Gist was the first black Miss USA in 1990, and Janel Bishop was the first black Miss Teen USA in 1991.
More than beauty, the Black women pageant winners each have advocacies that aim to positively impact their fellowmen. Franklin, who is an opera singer, hopes to inspire the youth through music. Garris hopes to defy beauty standards by embracing her natural hair.
Kryst, who is an attorney, is working to promote criminal justice reform and is helping wrongly-convicted prisoners for free. Tunzi, on the other hand, is working to fight against gender-based violence.
Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama expressed her pride over these womens’ accomplishments on Twitter using the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag.