Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America Are All Black Women for the First Time Ever
The historical moment was cemented Thursday evening after Miss North Carolina, Cheslie Kryst, took home the title of Miss USA 2019, when she was crowned by her predecessor, Miss USA 2018, Sarah Rose Summers.
Kryst, 28, beat out 50 other contestants including Miss Oklahoma, Triana Browne, who was named second runner-up, and Miss New Mexico, Alejandra Gonzalez, who was named first runner-up.
Four days earlier, Kaliegh Garris was crowned Miss Teen USA, winning over runner-up Miss North Dakota, Kaitlyn Vogel. The 18-year-old Connecticut native showed off her natural curls as she tearfully accepted the crown.
And this past September, Cara Mund of North Dakota, ended her run as Miss America 2018 when she crowned Miss New York, Nia Imani Franklin, with the 2019 Miss America tiara.
Garris’ hands shook as she accepted her sash and crown, which was placed atop her voluminous natural curls before she took her first walk as the official Miss Teen USA on April 28.
In an interview with Refinery29 following the competition, the newly crowned teen said that she prepped her locks herself before the competition.
“The night before, I finger curled every single piece of my hair in the shower, which led to a very long shower, but it was for the greater good,” she shared.
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“I know what I look like with straight hair, with extensions, and with my curly hair, and I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair,” continued Garris, whose career ambition is to be a nurse.
Kryst is “a full-time attorney that is licensed to practice law in two states,” according to her Miss USA bio, while Franklin, according to her Miss America bio, is a “classically trained opera singer and advocate for the arts.”
The trio’s history-making wins follow that of Vanessa Williams, who became the first black woman to win the Miss America pageant in 1983. The first black Miss USA winner, Carole Gist, took home the title in 1990 (and nabbed first runner-up in Miss Universe), while Janel Bishop was crowned the first black Miss Teen USA the following year.