By Samantha Dixon
JA Tougaloo Student Writer
On September 4, 2023, 12 contestants competed in the Miss Black Mississippi USA Pageant in Hattiesburg, striving to portray different forms of Black excellence. This year’s Queens Court consists of Samantha Morrow (Miss Black Mississippi USA Talented Teen), Kyra Maurice (Miss Black Mississippi USA), and Shinita Payton (Ms. Black Mississippi USA). The winners will now prepare for the 2024 national competition.
The goal of Miss Black Mississippi USA is to encourage women to embrace the beauty that lies in their own skin. Some people question the importance of pageants. That assumption might change when reading the pivotal message presented by the Miss Black Mississippi USA Pageant.
Since 1987, Miss Black Mississippi USA has been established to uplift the Black community. The pageant has five categories including Personal Interview, Fitness, Talent, Evening Gown, and On-Stage Question. It is unique because it caters to a wide range of ages. Kristy Arrington, state director, and former Miss Black Mississippi USA 2017, expresses the value of showcasing Black girl magic. Arrington says that the message she wants this pageant to convey is that “starting at age 13 up to age 45, we are letting African American girls and women know they can still compete in pageantry no matter the age.” It is refreshing to see different age groups express their ideas of beauty,” she said.
Arrington also shared her thoughts on what pageantry means to Black women and her purpose for continuing to recruit contestants from across the Magnolia State. She stated, “No matter the shade of brown, hair texture, or size, she can still be the best contestant that there can be…with different things that have happened in the past and in the present, there is still some sunshine in the gray area. Miss Black Mississippi USA is making the point to break down the typical beauty standards. Our community needs uplifting events like this to celebrate each other.”