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Sat, 09.17.1983

The First Black Miss America is Crowned

Vanessa Williams

*On this date in 1983, Vanessa L. Williams became the 56th Miss America and the first Black woman to be chosen.

Unfortunately, in 1984, she was forced to relinquish her crown after Penthouse magazine published nude photos of her taken years before.  Losing the title meant losing $2 million in product endorsements and the lead in a Broadway musical. Most people assumed her career was over, but Williams' talent won. “I am not a lesbian, and I am not a slut, and somehow I am going to make people believe me,” was Williams’ vow.

In little more than a decade after, Williams had a massive hit with "Save the Best for Last"; a gold album; a critically praised Broadway role in Kiss of the Spider Woman; and movies opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger (Eraser) and Laurence Fishburne (Hoodlum), and alongside Vivica Fox (Soul Food).  She continues with her career and family life.

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Poetry Corner

They say you were a farmer, I never heard your voice, I heard you were the oldest child, Did you ever have a choice? Did you ever have a... OLLIE by Clementine Pigford
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