Pass the Crown: Miss Black Western 2015 reflects on crown

Shantel-Ann Pettway

Contestants’ hopes of winning will be in the hands of the judges for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s “Casino Royale” themed Miss Black Western pageant Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the Downing Student Union auditorium.

Miss Black Western began as an effort to showcase African-American women’s talent and beauty. When the pageant began, women of color weren’t able to run for Homecoming queen at WKU. The first Miss Black Western was Carolyn Brown of Louisville who was crowned in 1971, according to the University Archives.

The 17 contestants will be competing for the title and a textbook scholarship. Members of the Epsilon Zeta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha said the interest received this semester for the pageant made members feel like they were doing their job.

“This lets me know that the chapter is doing what they’re supposed to in uplifting the girls and providing them great opportunity,” Louisville senior Andria McCravy said.

I was crowned Miss Black Western in 2015, and it’s hard to believe I’ve held this title for a full year. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m about to pass the crown on to another deserving young lady.

Looking back, I now realize how big a milestone it was for me to become a pageant queen. I prefer to hide behind written words, but the pageant made me vocalize them. I’m grateful for the experience’s allowing me to find it in myself to vocalize those words.

I know for some of the women, this is what the pageant is all about. It isn’t solely because they want to win but because they have something within them that needs to be showcased.

“I’ve gained more confidence and diversity in who I am from this pageant,” Louisville sophomore Asia Brown said.

Practices are only the beginning of the confidence you get from this experience.

Trust me, I know.

Once you’re actually on that stage, the lights extract every insecurity from you. The nerves you might feel at that moment only push you to accomplish amazing feats you might not have known you were capable of.

I believe Miss Black Western gives girls a chance to meet who they really are, and I take refuge in knowing I’m not the only one who thinks so.

“I think this pageant gives girls confidence, friendship, and just lets them know they are beautiful,” McCravy said.

The beauty can be found in the long practice hours. It’s found in looking at the same faces every day. It’s found in meeting new people and gaining mentors.

As Friday approaches, the memories of this past year put a smile on my face because I made some lifelong friends, but I can also imagine some contestants are ready to get it over with.

“I’m excited that the time is almost up because it took a lot of work and dedication to be here,” Brown said. “But I gained so much from this experience that I won’t forget.”

I encourage anyone who hasn’t witnessed the Miss Black Western pageant to come to the DSU auditorium Friday and see true talent.

The cost to attend is $5, but the price is lowered to $3 with a donated canned good. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. You don’t want to miss this.