Our second national title holder Gloria O. Smith, Miss Black America 1969

The Black Image 1960’s

During this time the media, the government, the entertainment industry and the social consciousness of this country had all but said, “Black is ugly, “ and that it should not be included and displayed as part of the American socio-economic and cultural system. Blacks were excluded from major magazines and television commercials. Black people, themselves, believed dark skin and broad features were unattractive. The self-image of Blacks in America was stunted.

Introducing the Miss Black America Pageant

As part of the struggle of this time, there was a need to reverse the negative propaganda of the Black woman. Developed in 1968 by J. Morris Anderson, the Miss Black America Pageant was created to project the Black woman in all her charm, poise, and beauty, and to provide her with a world-class event that would celebrate their standards, talent, and African heritage.

From the time J. Morris Anderson first created and produced the Miss Black America Pageant on August 17, 1968 until the present, there has always been one major question asked: Why should there be a Miss Black America Pageant since there is already a Miss America Pageant? Always, the answer has been: “To provide a forum for the Black Man to say his wife is mentally, spiritually, and physically beautiful the same as the white man has a forum through which to say his woman is beautiful.” The MBA Pageant has always provided a stage on which the Black woman could display her talent; a platform on which she could air her views; and, a pedestal from where she could reign as a universal symbol of pride and dignity.

"Buoyed by the winds of social change, the Miss Black America Pageant, was carried to the boardwalk of Atlantic City, NJ. With our beautiful, Black, queenly contestants, we paraded down that famous Boardwalk --- pausing for a moment in front of the official home of the Miss America Pageant --- then, we moved on and into the streets of Atlantic City. Tom-toms throbbed. Black children gleefully and proudly ran along with our caravan. They were doing more than just following a parade, they were witnessing history in the making."- Calvin Jackson, Royalty On The Boardwalk

However, once a Black newspaper asked “Why should there be a Miss Black America Pageant since the Miss America Pageant now accepts Black women?” The response was: “You wouldn't suggest closing your Black newspaper simply because a major white daily published a story about a Black, would you?” Three decades of Producing the Miss Black America Pageant and TV Special has opened many avenues to Black women and wiped away many negative images that have been beholden by Black people in general. A Black woman who became Miss America was asked how she felt being Miss America, and being Black. She responded: “Black is the least that I am."

The opinion of the Miss Black America Pageant is that Black is the most beautiful entity any human being with dark skin can be in America. This, because all humans are a total of their experiences, and being Black is the most profound experience a Black human being encounters in America.

The MBA Pageant was created more as a protest against the negative self images that Black people imposed upon themselvess than against the powers which imposed those images. The fact is that many Black mothers once pinched the noses of their young in attempts to cause them to have narrow, Caucasian features. Many forced their children to walk around with clothes pins squeezing their noses to acquire narrow features. And many Black youth yet hear their parents talking about the pretty little girl or handsome little boy with the “good” hair and the “light skin.” This old, stereotypical thinking is what caused and yet causes Blacks to think that curly hair is bad and dark skin with African features is ugly. These negative attitudes yet remain prevalent in America. Therefore, there remains a need for the Miss Black America Pageant to stay alive and continue its work.