Black Beauties: African American Pageant Queens in the Segregated South

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In 1984, Vanessa Williams broke the race barrier to become Miss America, but she was not the first Black woman to wear a pageant crown. Black beauty pageants created a distinctive and celebrated cultural tradition during some of the most dismal times in the country’s racial history. With the rise of the civil rights and Black Pride movements, pageantry also represented a component of social activism. Professor Kimberly Pellum explores this glamourous and profound history with contributions by dozens of former contestants who share their personal experiences.
ISBN: 9781467144827
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The History Press
State: Florida
Series: American Heritage
Images: 70
Pages: 144
Dimensions: 6 (w) x 9 (h)
With a terminal degree in United States history from Howard University, Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum specializes in the history of women’s images, southern culture and the Black Freedom Struggle. Her contributions to publicly accessible history include work at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the Rosa Parks Museum and Google’s Arts & Culture series. She is the director of the digital archives project The Museum of Black Beauty ( and serves as a member of the history faculty at Florida A&M University.
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