Congratulations to Caressa Cameron. Caressa, who was Miss Virginia, was crowned the new Miss America last Saturday in Las Vegas. Caressa graduated from Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, VA and she’s a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University.
By OSKAR GARCIA
Associated Press Writer
A 22-year-old Virginia woman who said she once thought her only talent was singing is the nation’s newest Miss America, emerging from a field of 53 contestants picked for their beauty, compassion and interview savvy.
Caressa Cameron, a broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University, now plans a second year away from college as she travels extensively to raise money for charity and carry the 89-year-old pageant’s crown.
“I hope to gain inspiration, I hope to gain momentum so that when this 365 days is over, I can shoot through the moon,” Cameron told The Associated Press.
Cameron, the first black Miss America since Ericka Dunlap in 2005, says she wants to get a master’s degree and eventually become a news anchor.
Cameron, the daughter of a background researcher for the government and a contractor, said she was inspired to compete in pageants at age 14, when Miss Virginia 2003 Nancy Redd visited her school.
“At that time, all I knew that I could do was sing — that’s all I had,” the Fredericksburg, Va., native said.
Cameron said that after that visit, she decided to try out for a school musical, which snowballed into more opportunities in the arts, drama and other areas.
“More doors and more doors continued to open,” she said. “It’s so important that we reach our young people, because there are so many young people that are at the very same crossroads that I was at.”
“We need those people to let them know that just because your circumstances are a certain way, you don’t have to succumb to them,” she said. “You can do something amazing, like become Miss America.”
The last Miss America from Virginia was Nicole Johnson in 1999.
Cameron won the title and a $50,000 scholarship Saturday night after strutting in a skintight yellow dress, belting Beyonce’s “Listen” from “Dreamgirls” and advising parents to limit video games and television when asked about childhood obesity during an onstage interview.
Caressa is the 8th black woman to be crowned Miss America. After she was crowned I went back and read the blog post I made back in May 2009 titled Are Separate Beauty Pageants for Women of Color Still Relevant? The Miss America pageant has come a long way from their days of the notorious rule number seven.
The pageant’s long history of excluding women of color dates from its beginnings. At some point in the 1930s, it was formalized in the notorious rule number seven of the Miss America rule book. Instituted under the directorship of Lenora Slaughter, rule number seven stated that “contestants must be of good health and of the white race.” As late as 1940, all contestants were required to list, on their formal biological data sheet, how far back they could trace their ancestry. In the pageant’s continual crusade for respectability, ancestral connections to the Revolutionary War or perhaps the Mayflower would have been seen as a plus.
You can read more about Caressa at Fredericksburg.com.