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.
The new #MissUniverse2019 is... SOUTH AFRICA!!!! 🇿🇦 https://t.co/gRW8vcuT3A— Miss Universe (@Miss Universe) 1575860451.0
Women who were once excluded are now celebrated. Beauty is beauty, regardless of what color someone's skin is. "Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine," Tunzi wrote on Instagram after her win.
RELATED: An 11-year-old girl will make history as the first black lead in NYC ballet's 'The Nutcracker'
Tunzi spoke about how representation is important. "I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me—with my kind of skin and my kind of hair—was never considered to be beautiful," Tunzi said during the pageant. "I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine." During the pageant, Tunzi also chose to wear her hair natural and cropped, which she called 'a symbol of my firm belief in fair representation."
Tunzi's victory is part of a larger movement of acceptance and inclusion. "We come from such a racially divided world and so for us to be moving forward in unity together to say look, these are women that have rarely been celebrated in the past and finally people are starting to see the greatness that is within us -- I'm so happy to be a part of this," Tunzi said.
Miss USA Cheslie Kryst competed in the Miss Universe pageant as well, placing in the top 10. Miss America Nia Franklin posted a message of support for her fellow pageant queen.
Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris also congratulated Tunzi.
Many others took to social media to celebrate.
#BlackGirlMagic 💪🏾 https://t.co/Du0hUf81wB— Michelle Obama (@Michelle Obama) 1575936619.0
Congratulations Miss South Africa, the new Miss Universe @zozitunzi! Agree with you...leadership is the most powerf… https://t.co/rXOz4t5vBe— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah Winfrey) 1575864365.0
South Africa is so beautiful. The fact that she said she was blasting Beyonce's "Brown Skin Girl" today as motivati… https://t.co/5L8f4z0Cih— Destiny Chance (@Destiny Chance) 1575854053.0
#ZozibiniTunzi #MissUniverse2019 #brownskingirl I grew up in the same world...Thank u @zozitunzi for rewriting the… https://t.co/r6WObbAVtQ— TheeOnlyDaughter (@TheeOnlyDaughter) 1575887594.0
Your skin color doesn't define your beauty, The length of your hair doesn't define your beauty, Ms. South Africa ou… https://t.co/dtI3Cmjypt— Momo Ramirez (@Momo Ramirez) 1575887147.0
Beauty comes in all shapes and forms. It's great to see everyone celebrated.
- Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America are all black women ... ›
- Black women hold all three major US beauty pageant titles for first ... ›
- America's 3 major 2019 pageant winners are black women: A win for ... ›
- Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss America and Miss Teen USA are all ... ›
- This Year, America's Pageant Winners Are All Black Women ›
- Miss Universe 2019 Winner Is Outspoken About Gender, Climate ... ›
- For the First Time, Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and ... ›
- First time black women win all three biggest US pageants - BBC News ›
- Miss America, Miss Teen USA and Miss USA Are All Black Women ... ›
- Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Teen USA and now Miss Universe ... ›