Queens And Their Crowns: The History Of Black Women Becoming Pageant Winners

Black Beauty Queens You NTK

Queens And Their Crowns: The History Of Black Women Becoming Pageant Winners

Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh joins the growing list of Black beauty queens.

Published December 18, 2019

Written by Tweety Elitou

As we come to the close of 2019, Black women (and girls!) around the world are rejoicing to know for the first time in history, Black women have won all major crowns in the mainstream pageant world—Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, Miss International Queen and now Miss World!

Glowing with various shades of rich melanin, Black Beauty Queens have not only secured the crown but also left a legacy for the generations of Brown Skin Girls coming in the future.

RELATED | Brown Skin Girl!: The World Rejoices As Zozibini Tunzi From South Africa Is Crowned Miss Universe 2019

However, this was not always possible. Black women were once banned from participation in major beauty pageants, including Miss America and Miss USA. Nevertheless, our beauty cannot be ignored! 

In 1970, Cheryl Browne represented Iowa at Miss America and the rest is her-story! Janelle Commissiong earned the title as the first Black Miss Universe in 1977, Vanessa Williams became the first Black Miss America in 1983, the first Black Miss USA contestant, Carole Anne-Marie Gist, was crowned in 1990, and in 1991 Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA. Legendary! 

RELATED | Kenya Moore Posts Photos Of Herself From The 1993 Miss Universe Pageant

On the topic of legacies, we have created a timeline of those who represented #BlackGirlMagic throughout the decades on the big stage. Enjoy, as we take a fabulous walk down memory lane!

  1. Janelle Commissiong (Trinidad and Tobago)-Miss Universe 1977
    1977:  Trinidadian beauty queen Janelle Commissiong wins the Miss Universe contest.  (Photo by Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images)
  2. Vanessa Williams (Bronx, NY)- Miss America 1984
    MISS AMERICA PAGEANT 1984 -- Pictured: Vanessa Williams  -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
    (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)
  3. Halle Berry (Cleveland, Oh)- 6th Place At The 1986 Miss World pageant
    MISS WORLD REHEARSAL 1986: Miss USA, student Halle Berry, 20, crowned at the dress rehearsal of the Miss World Final which takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, London.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
    (Photo: PA Images via Getty Images)
  4. Debbye Turner (Honolulu, Hawaii)- Miss America 1990
    Miss America, Debbye Turner and Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., on Oct. 2, 1989. (Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
    (Photo: Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
  5. Carole Anne-Marie Gist (Detroit, MI)- Miss USA 1990
    Miss Michigan Carole Anne-Marie Gist, is crowned Miss USA at the 1990 Wichita, Kansas, televised ceremony.  Ms. Gist was the first African-American to win the Miss USA title. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
    (Photo: George Rose/Getty Images)
  6. Janel Bishop (Manchester, NH)- Miss Teen USA 1991
  7. Kenya Moore (Detroit, MI) - Miss USA 1993
    Miss USA 1993 Kenya Moore attends the Starlight Children's Foundation of Southern California's "The Child In All of Us" 10th Annual Humanitarian Award Salute to Arsenio Hall and Fourth Annual Children's Friendship Award Salute to the Cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on March 13, 1993 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
  8. Kimberly Clarice Aiken (Columbia, SC)- Miss America 1994
    Miss South Carolina Kimberly Clarice Aiken, 18, (R) is shown to the runway after being crowned Miss America by last year's Miss America Leanza Cornett 18 September 1993 in New Jersey. Aiken says she plans to spend her year as Miss America working to educate the homeless. (Photo credit: TIM CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
    (Photo: TIM CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
  9. Chelsi Smith (Redwood City, CA)- Miss Universe 1995
    Miss USA, Chelsi Smith is crowned the Miss Universe 95 at the Windhoek Country Club 13 May in Namibia during a live telecast. The two runners-up in the contest were Miss India, Manpreet Braar and Miss Canada, Lana Buchenberger. (Photo credit: PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP via Getty Images)
    (Photo: PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP via Getty Images)
  10. Wendy Fitzwilliam (Trinidad and Tobago)- Miss Universe 1998
    Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam performs with the mas group Harts Carnival during the presentation of the band titled 'Shimmer and Lace' as part of Trinidad Carnival at the Queen's Park Savannah on February 13, 2018 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  (Photo by Sean Drakes/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Sean Drakes/Getty Images)
  11. Mpule Kwelagobe (Gaborone, Botswana)- Miss Universe 1999
    Mpule Kwelagobe Waves To Audience As She Is Titled The Miss Universe May 26, 1999 In Chaguaramas, Trinidad And Tobago.  (Photo By Getty Images)
    (Photo: Getty Images)
  12. Marissa Whitley (Los Angeles, CA)- Miss Teen USA 2001
    Marissa Whitley during 7th Annual Gen Art's "Fresh Faces" Fashion Show at The Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
    (Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage)
  13. Shauntay Hinton (Starkville, MS)- Miss USA 2002
    Miss USA Shauntay Hinton at "Sheryl Crow and Friends" presented by Revlon and VH1 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The National Breast Cancer Coalition at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, 3/6/02. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
  14. Erika Harold (Urbana, IL)- Miss America 2003
    Miss America 2003, Erika N.L. Harold of Urbana, Illinois, walks the runway after being crowned Miss America 2003. (Photo by Donna Connor/FilmMagic)
    (Photo: Donna Connor/FilmMagic)
  15. Rachel Smith (Panama City, Panama)- Miss USA 2007
    Miss Tennessee USA Rachel Smith (L) is crowned Miss USA 2007 by Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, at The 56th Annual Miss USA Pageant at the Kodak Theater on March 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
  16. Crystle Stewart (Houston, TX)- Miss USA 2008
    Miss USA 2008/Miss Texas Crystle Stewart attends the 2008 Miss USA Competition at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on April 11, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jill Ann Spaulding/FilmMagic)
    (Photo: Jill Ann Spaulding/FilmMagic)
  17. Kamie Crawford (Potomac, MD)- Miss Teen USA 2010
    Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford arrives at the Fourteenth Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala: Celebrating Fifty Nations on November 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage)
    (Photo: Alexander Tamargo/WireImage)
  18. Caressa Cameron (Fredericksburg, VA)-Miss America 2010
    CARESSA CAMERON during the 2010 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Planet Hollywood)
  19. Leila Lopes (Benguela, Angola)- Miss Universe 2011
    Miss Angola 2011 Leila Lopes is crowned Miss Universe 2011 by Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete of Mexico at the 60th annual Miss Universe beauty pageant at the Credicard Hall in Sao Paulo on September 12, 2011.  (Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
    (Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
  20. Logan West (Southington, CT)- Miss Teen USA 2012
    Miss Teen USA 2012 Logan West attends The 58th Annual Viennese Opera Ball at The Waldorf=Astoria on February 1, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Charles Eshelman/WireImage)
    (Photo: Charles Eshelman/WireImage)
  21. Nana Meriwether (Soweto, South Africa)- Miss USA 2012
    Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether attends Global Champions Of A Mother's Fight Awards Dinner at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on February 20, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
    (Photo: Michael Stewart/WireImage)
  22. Deshauna Barber (Columbus, GA)- Miss USA 2016
    DESHAUNA BARBER during the 2016 Miss USA pageant at T-Mobile Arena on June 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  23. Kára McCullough (Naples, Italy)- Miss USA 2017
    Newly appointed Miss USA 2017 winner, Kara McCullough, Miss District Of Columbia poses for her Miss USA Portrait at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on May 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo By Benjamin Askinas/WME IMG via Getty Images)
    (Photo: Benjamin Askinas/WME IMG via Getty Images)
  24. Hailey Colborn (Wichita, KS)- Miss Teen USA 2018
    HAILEY COLBORN walks the red carpet at the Shreveport Convention Center prior to the 2018 Miss USA on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana.
    (Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
  25. Nia Franklin (Winston-Salem, NC)- Miss America 2019
    MISS AMERICA 2019, NIA FRANKLIN 
(Photo by Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
    (Photo: Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
  26. Kaliegh Garris (New Haven, CT)- Miss Teen USA 2019
    Kaliegh Garris, Miss Teen USA 2019, attends New York Fashion Week powered by Art Hearts Fashion NYFW at The Angel Orensanz Foundation on September 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion)
    (Photo: Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion)
  27. Zozibini Tunzi (Tsolo, South Africa)- Miss Universe 2019
    Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, appears at a press conference following the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
  28. Jazell Barbie Royale (Jacksonville, Florida)- Miss International Queen 2019
    Jazell Barbie Royale (C) of the US, the Miss International Queen 2019 receives a kiss from finalists Kanwara Kaewjin (L) of Thailand and Yaya (R) of China during the annual transgender beauty contest of Miss International Queen 2019 at Pattaya city, Chonburi province, Thailand, 08 March 2019. (Photo by Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto)
    (Photo: Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  29. Cheslie Kryst (Charlotte, NC)- Miss USA 2019
    Miss USA Cheslie Kryst smiles while onstage at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
  30. Toni-Ann Singh (Morant Bay, Jamaica)- Miss World 2019
    Newly crowned Miss World 2019 Miss Jamaica Toni-Ann Singh smiles during the the Miss World Final 2019 at the Excel arena in east London on December 14, 2019. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
    (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photos: NBCU Photo Bank, PA Images via Getty Images, Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP via Getty Images, George Rose/Getty Images, Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Planet Hollywood, Paras Griffin/Getty Images, Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion, Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images, Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

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