Miss Black America

About Miss Black America

The Miss Black America beauty contest is a competition for young African-American women – essentially the black version of the popular Miss America pageant. The pageant has garnered the support of artists, activists and performers including Stevie WonderCurtis Mayfield, and Oprah Winfrey. After 40 years, in 2009 the pageant had a “kick off” in Washington D.C. to rebrand the competition.

It was originally a local Philadelphia area contest to protest the lack of black women in the Miss America pageant. J. Morris Anderson created and produced the Miss Black America Pageant along with Brenda Cozart who organized and directed the pageant also serving as a beauty consultant for contestants and recruiter which started on August 17, 1968, at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlantic City. With support from Phillip H. Savage, Tri-State Director of the NAACP, the pageant received nationwide press coverage as a protest against the Miss America Pageant, an event that Mr. Savage and other NAACP leaders had long condemned for the exclusion of black women contestants.

Director of Subjects of Desire, Jennifer Holness, with Founder of Miss Black America, J. Morris Anderson and his daughter.

In September 1977, NBC televised the Miss Black America contest, the day before CBS televised Miss America.

The first Miss Black America was Saunda Williams in 1968.