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Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America are all black — a first in pageant history


Nia Franklin; Paul Archuleta/Getty ImagesWhen Cheslie Kryst was crowned Miss USA last week, she became the third part of an historic pageant trio.

For the first time in history, black women are simultaneously wearing the winning crowns of all three of America’s top pageants: Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America.

Kryst, a North Carolina civil litigation attorney, completes the trio along with 2019 Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris and 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin.

Garris, a Connecticut high school senior, was crowned Sunday and plans to attend college to pursue her dreams of becoming a nurse.

Franklin, who won her competition in September, is a classically trained opera singer who represented New York in the pageant.

Black women pageant winners are fairly new to the historically elite competitions. The first Miss America pageant was in 1921, but women of color were barred from competing until the 1940s due to a rule that said contestants must be of “the white race.”

Vanessa Williams became the first black pageant winner when she was crowned Miss America in 1983.

The Miss USA contest was created in 1952, but it wasn’t until 1990 that it crowned its first black contestant, Carole Anne-Marie Gis, as winner. The following year, Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA.

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