Women of Color Continue Making Strides for Equality in 2020 Miss USA Pageant

Miss USA Logo.png

According to Wikipedia, “Miss USA has been held annually since 1952 in select states.” It began as a result of Yolanda Betbeze’s refusal to pose in a swimsuit. Pageant sponsor, Catalina, agreed with Betbeze and created Miss USA along with Miss Universe.  It is currently operated under the Miss Universe Organization, which also operates Miss Teen USA. The pageant was owned by current president, Donald Trump, from 1996 to 2015, and is now owned by WME/IMG.

Carole Gist

In 1990, Carole Gist was crowned Miss USA; she was the first African-American to do so. She then went on to win first runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant. Since then, there have been nine African-American women to win the title with the latest being Cheslie Kryst in 2019— until now.

Asya Branch

In 2018, Asya Branch (Booneville, MS) became the fourth African-American woman to be crowned Miss Mississippi. She became the first African-American to win Miss Mississippi USA. She then went on to represent Mississippi in the 2020 Miss USA pageant.

On November 9, 2020, Branch was crowned winner of Miss USA 2020. Branch is only the 10th African-American winner of Miss USA, but she is the first African-American winner from the state of Mississippi.

She was preceded by Cheslie Kryst (Jackson, Michigan) who was a part of the fabulous five in 2019.

Pictured (L-R): Toni-Ann Singh, Zozibini Tunzi, Cheslie Kryst, Kaliegh Garris, and Nia Franklin.

In 2019, history was made. For the first time ever, top beauty pageants: Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss World all crowned black women as their winners. From women of color being banned from participating in pageants at all to having all black women crowned simultaneously is astonishing. African-American women are continuing to make strides for equality.

Kamala Harris

Recently, Kamala Harris was announced as the 2020 vice president-elect of the United States of America. She is the first African-American woman to hold this title, and women of color can only hope she won’t be the last.

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