When you hear the name Karen Arrington, you may immediately think of female empowerment, philanthropy, and Miss Black USA. Miss Black USA is a pageant held every year to celebrate the empowerment and achievements of black women across the Untied States. The pageant is a national scholarship program, so the winner receives an academic scholarship while also having to serve as Miss Black USA for one year. This program was founded in 1986 by Arrington, whose goal is to “help African-American women write the new rules of power.” She believes women are our greatest untapped resource and that this pageant (along with other great philanthropic opportunities she provides) gives women the tools, inspiration, and connections they need to redefine their destinies.
This year’s Miss Black USA was held Aug. 7-9 at the University of the District of Columbia. On the eve of Aug. 9, 36 final contestants gathered along with five prestigious judges to crown this year’s winner of Miss Black USA.
On the red carpet, the five judges (ranging from scholar John Wesley Blassingame to makeup artist Derrick Rutledge), last year’s winner Jasmine Alexander and others from Ms. Arrington’s illustrious programs joined for interviews, pictures, laughter, and passing on knowledge and experiences. The beautiful and inspiring Jasmine Alexander recounted her recent tour in South Africa, while Derrick Rutledge spoke briefly of his work in the beauty industry and what it was like to work with celebrities such as Oprah and Patti LaBelle. His shared, “Never give up, because dreams do come true.”
This event is the epitome of what Karen Arrington sought to achieve: the discovery of the power and talent of black women and what they can achieve. All of the women in the competition were incredibly enthusiastic and talented, each representing their city and state from various locations across the USA, but of course there can only be one winner. This year’s Miss Black USA crown went to Miss Greensboro, North Carolina, Madison Gibbs.
Congratulations, Madison, and continue to inspire young black women across the nation to aspire for great things in their lives and to reach their potential. Below are a few pictures captured on the red carpet.