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The Ultimate Guide to African American Pageants

12, March 2016

The pageant world broadens itself daily as new and exciting systems are emerging. There are so many different types of pageants out there for every type of pageant girl that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. On the bright side, you have The Pageant Planet to help you keep track of everything. Click here to search and find a pageant. We all know about popular systems such as Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss America, Miss World, etc., but what about those systems that we may not know too much about? Have no fear, because I am going to give you the inside scoop on some of the most prestigious, and historic black pageant systems that are doing big things in an even bigger ways!

Guide to African American Pageants

Miss Black USA

Miss Black USA 2019, Tekema Balentine. Photo: Miss Black USA Instagram

Miss Black USA is a national campaign to promote self-esteem in African American girls. This system was founded in 1986 by Karen Arrington and its first pageant was held in 1987 in Washington, DC. Its mission is to provide educational opportunities to outstanding young women of color and to develop the “whole woman mind, body, and spirit.” It celebrates scholastic achievements and believes that education is the key to lifelong success and empowerment. By providing scholarship opportunities to its winners they promote education and leadership. In 1990 they were able to provide their winner with a full-tuition, four-year scholarship and a fully furnished apartment. In 2009 they added a new division to their organization, “Miss USA Talented Teen,” which is directed under the leadership of Debra Carr. Since its humble beginnings, the Miss Black USA organization has partnered with the American Diabetes Association, and Dr. Ian Smith has been celebrity spokesperson for American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the face of Flori Roberts cosmetics. This organization is dedicated to community service and each winner of the official “Miss Black USA” state pageant uses her civic platform to promote awareness of these issues during her reign. 

 Miss Black America 


Miss Black America 2018 Ryann Richardson. Photo: Miss Black America Pageant Intsagram

Miss Black America is the nation’s oldest pageant system for women of color. For over 40 years, the Miss Black America organization has given praise to the black woman’s style, grace, beauty, and talent. Founded in 1968 by J. Morris Anderson, the Miss Black America system was created to reverse the negative propaganda of the black woman and her role in America. As our country grew to accept black beauty, the Miss Black America organization remains committed to empower women of color of all ages. Although the Miss Black America competition calls for young women ages 18-29, it welcomes ages 12-17 for their Teen division and ages 9-12 for their Little Miss Black America competition. Focusing in the areas of Training, Volunteerism, Beauty, Health and Wellness, and Talent, the Miss Black America pageant offers stunning and striking women of color the opportunity to be their best selves.

Miss Black US Ambassador

Miss Black US Ambassador 2019 Court. Photo: Miss Black International Ambassador Instagram

The Miss Black US Ambassador and Miss Black Teen US Ambassador Scholarship exist to give a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to African American women. These young women are rising voices in the community and seek to make a difference by providing educational forums and events that focus on health disparities, poverty, violence, and major issues plaguing the African American community. Miss Black US Ambassador is more than a competition. It’s a scholarship program that provides 365 days of support and resources to communities in need. It is a platform that showcases not just their pretty faces, but their gorgeous minds as well. The Miss Black US Ambassador program is judged in four areas. First, Community Service Presentation and Private Interview, where each contestant is given five minutes to present work they’ve been doing in their community, followed by questions regarding national issues that are faced by the African American community, their platform, community programs, and general pageant questions. Following the interview is Fitness, Evening Gown, and Onstage Q&A.

Although we have progressed in our views and perception of beauty, we still have some ways to go. These notable and respected systems have paved the way for African American women to showcase their beauty, their way, while providing them the opportunity to reach their full potential both in education and in life.


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