A Crowning Moment

Jocelyn Robinson

Students in jeans and sweatshirts mingled with families holding flowers and balloons as each waited for their contestant to take the stage.

Ten confident women showed what they were made of in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s 32nd annual Miss Black Western pageant Thursday night.

“It’s to promote black women in a positive setting,” said Louisville senior Adrianne Braxton, a member of AKA. “When it began in the 70s, black women weren’t really noticed, and it was an opportunity to showcase their talents.”

Friends and family members in the audience cheered as the curtain rose, revealing the 10 contestants.

“The AKAs put the show together real nice,” said Louisville junior Shaveka Gibson. “I know I’m going to see a good show.”

The show opened with the contestants dancing and introducing themselves to the audience.

The pageant had three segments: spring wear, talent and evening gown and personal narrative.

During the spring wear competition, the contestants walked across the stage wearing capri pants or dresses in a variety of colors as the audience shouted words of encouragement.

The contestants chose what they wanted to perform for the talent competition. Some contestants did a dance routine, while others recited poems or monologues. One contestant did a gymnastics routine, performing a series of back flips and hand stands that received a standing ovation from the audience.

“There’s a lot of contestant choice involved in the show,” Braxton said. “Each year is different, depending on the contestants.”

During the evening gown competition, contestants wore everything from glittery gold evening dresses to flowing white ball gowns.

The contestants then recited a personal narrative, describing themselves to the audience in poetic language. Many emphasized that physical beauty isn’t everything and that spirit and confidence is just as important.

Five finalists were selected, and each had to answer the same question before the judges selected the winner.

Mortons Gap freshman Katherine Sharber was crowned Miss Black Western 2003. Nashville sophomore Leah Smith was named runner up, while Nashville freshman Patrica Pollard and Louisville freshman Dedra McDowell tied for second runner up.

The winner received a scholarship to pay for books and school supplies.

McDowell said she enjoyed the experience, even though she didn’t win.

“I got to meet new people and new friends,” she said. “We’re so close, it didn’t matter who placed and who didn’t.”

Reach Jocelyn Robinson at [email protected]