2019 is the year of black pageant women, as Brianna Mason wins the Miss Tennessee scholarship pageant.

The first-grade teacher from Nashville won the Miss Tennessee scholarship Saturday night, which makes her the first African-American woman to win the title in the pageant’s eight-decade history.

The crown serves as Mason’s ticket to the Miss America pageant, which occurs later this year. Miss America is a competition separate from the Miss USA pageant system.

Some pageants date back to the 1920s, where women of color were banned from participating. Even after organizations started changing their rules to accept women of all races, there was still lingering frustration and opposition. Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America in 1983, Carole Anne-Marie Gist was the first black woman crowned Miss USA in 1990, and Jane Bishop was the first black Miss Teen USA in 1991. 


For the first time, reigning Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA are all black women. The 2019 trio of national winners include Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst, a civil Litigation lawyer who does pro bono work for prisoners, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin who is an opera singer and arts advocate, and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris who competed with her natural hair and then won the national title. 

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