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

When Cheslie Kryst was crowned Miss USA on Thursday she helped cement herself as part of a historic pageant trio.

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

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.

Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, who won her competition in September, is a classically trained opera singer who represented the state of 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 was the first black pageant winner and was crowned Miss America in 1983.

The Miss USA contest was created in 1952 and it wasn’t until 1990 that they crowned their first black contesant, Carole Anne-Marie Gis. The following year, Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA.

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