Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for September 17

Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America on September 17, 1983.

Vanessa Williams Becomes the First Black Miss America

Vanessa Williams is a singer, actress, producer and former fashion model, but she might not have become as famous as she is if she didn’t win the Miss America crown on this day in 1983. She was the first African-American to win the title, but it was short-lived. A scandal came about shortly thereafter when Penthouse magazine purchased nude photographs of Williams that were taken a year earlier that Williams thought were private and were destroyed. For the first time ever, a Miss America was targeted with hate mail and even death threats. Williams stepped down from her title on July 23, 1984 and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Suzette Charles of New Jersey. She is recognized as "Miss America 1984-b.” However, Williams has been noted to have become the most successful Miss America of all time. On September 13, 2015 during the live telecast of the 88th pageant, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell apologized to Williams "for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."