You’d think that in 2019, we wouldn’t be experiencing so many firsts related to gender and race — but alas, here we are celebrating three Black Queens who’ve made history in a major way. For the first time ever, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America are all beautiful Black women. On Thursday, 27-year old North Carolina lawyer Cheslie Kryst, who represents prison inmates for free, was crowned Miss USA over first runner up, Alejandra Gonzalez of New Mexico. Kryst describes herself as a “weird kid” with a “unibrow” who’s now part of the first generation of truly empowered women.
“I’m standing here in Nevada, in the state that has the first female majority legislature in the entire country. Mine is the first generation to have that forward-looking mindset that has inclusivity, diversity, strength and empowered women. I’m looking forward to continued progress in my generation.”
Cheslie earned a law degree and an MBA at Wake Forest University before becoming a civil litigation attorney who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates. Talk about boss-ish!
Just last week, 18-year-old Connecticut native Kaliegh Garris was crowned Miss Teen USA over runner-up Miss North Dakota Kaitlyn Vogel. The young queen even rocked her natural curls while accepting the prestigious crown.
“The night before, I finger curled every single piece of my hair in the shower, which led to a very long shower, but it was for the greater good. I know what I look like with straight hair, with extensions, and with my curly hair, and I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair.”
Kaliegh is also a competitive dancer who founded the We Are People 1st initiative, which honors her older sister Chauntel, who has “multiple disabilities.” Queen tingz, for real. Back in September, 24-year old Brooklyn native Nia Franklin was crowned Miss America, becoming the first winner in the competition’s nearly 100-year run to be crowned without wearing a swimsuit.
“I’m a part of history. Miss America started off as a swimsuit competition, but I think it’s important that we’re evolving and I’m so excited to be a part of the new era. I’m the first Miss America 2.0 and I really want to do the most that I can this year to really have a firm foundation going forward. It was about what you have in your mind and in your heart.”
All beautiful, all educated, and all Black! Hit the flip to check out some magical, melanated photos of Cheslie, Kaliegh and Nia.