The Miss America pageant was started in 1921, but women of color were barred from participating until 1940. It took another 30 years for the first black woman to participate in the pageant in 1970. In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black woman to win Miss America. Now, the winners of all four major beauty pageants are all black women.

Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe, making this the first time in history that Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe are all black women. Tunzi is the first black woman to win Miss Universe since 2011, when Leila Lopes took home the crown.


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Dancing, singing, baton-twirling—when it comes to the talent portion of beauty pageants, we generally know what to expect.

But Camille Schrier turned that standard on its head when she performed an explosive science experiment for her talent in the Miss Virginia 2019 competition. The 24-year-old biochemist demonstrated and explained the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, a chemical reaction that happens when a catalyst (potassium iodide in this case) comes into contact with hydrogen peroxide. Schrier mixed the chemicals in three large flasks on a table, making colored foam spout high into the air and land in goopy piles on the stage.


How Miss Virginia Won Her Crown Thanks to Science www.youtube.com

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Miss America pageants are changing for the better, but that change has been slow to catch on in some state competitions.

On June 30, 2018, the emcee of the Miss Massachusetts pageant mocked #MeToo, blaming the loss of the swimsuit competition on the movement.

In a brief skit, a woman spoke to someone dressed as God, saying, “We may have very well seen the last ever swimsuit competition on stage. It’s very upsetting, and I’m trying to understand, God, why it happened.” And the person playing God held up a #MeToo sign and replied, "Me too, Amy."

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