Nikole Churchill, the first non-Black winner of Hampton University’s annual beauty pageant, says that she never should have sent a letter to President Obama blasting the classmates who rejected her crowning.
“I have now come to regret writing this letter and disappointing the very students that I now represent. I took the comments of a few and blew it out of proportion,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “I truly apologize to all students, faculty, staff and alumni. It was absolutely not my intention to bring negative attention to the University. I deeply apologize for any misunderstandings that this may have caused, and I look forward to working with my fellow students to promote the Hampton University legacy.”
The 22-year-old nursing senior, who won the 15th annual Miss Hampton U scholarship pageant on Friday, beat out nine Black contestants to become the first non-Black to do so at the Virginia-based historically Black university. Churchill, who said her father is from Guam and her mother is Italian, said initially that the “best night of her life” was ruined by dissenters.
Two days after her the crowning ceremony, where several students allegedly walked out, she wrote a letter to President Obama, pleading with him to come to Hampton and admonish her classmates for focusing on her race over her talent.
"I am sad to say that my crowning was not widely accepted and many negative comments regarding my win have been shared throughout my campus," she said in her letter. "It would be much easier to say that possibly some were not accepting of the news because I wasn't the most qualified contestant; however, the true reason for the disapproval was because of the color of my skin. I am not African American."
For beating out the competition in bathing suit, evening gown and talent categories, Churchill received a $1,500 scholarship, the right to represent the campus as homecoming queen on Oct. 24, and an automatic slot in the Miss Virginia beauty pageant.
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