The revamped Miss America pageant encouraged its beauty queens to take a more socially and politically conscious stance Sunday night — and one contender’s platform in particular had social media buzzing.
When introducing herself at the beginning of the competition, Miss Michigan Emily Sioma brought attention to the Flint water crisis rather than rattling off her personal accomplishments.
“From a state with 84 percent of the U.S. fresh water, but none for its residents to drink, I’m Miss Michigan Emily Sioma,” she said.
Lead poisoning from the city’s drinking water has plagued the residents of Flint, Michigan — with children and infants bearing the brunt of the effects — for several years. The above-average levels of lead in water began to appear in 2014 after the city began using the Flint River as its source of water.
Sioma, a women’s studies major at the University of Michigan, did not move on to the top 15. Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin eventually won the crown.
“It took a lot of perseverance to get here and I just want to thank my beautiful family,” she said.
RELATED VIDEO: Miss America Eliminates Swimsuit Competition: ‘We Are No Longer a Pageant’
In June, Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989 and chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced that the organization was making major changes to the contest.
“We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition,” Carlson said on Good Morning America. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”
Miss America 2019 aired live on ABC.