Black History

#OnThisDay: Vanessa Williams makes history

On September 17, 1983 Vanessa Williams made history when she was crowned as Miss America, the first black person to be crowned. This was a big deal because for the first 30 years of the competition’s existence, black people weren’t allowed to participate. Williams represented the state of New York. Her history making was short-lived as she was forced to give up the crown the following year after nude photos surfaced of her. Williams was replaced as Miss America by runner up, Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles. Despite the leaky photos, Williams was able to succeed, launching a music and film career. She is known for her role as Wilhelmina Slater on the hit TV show Ugly Betty. She is also well-known for a successful music career where she saw success with her first two albums The Right Stuff (1988) and The Comfort Zone (1991). Williams released multiple albums, including a Christmas Album and a Greatest hits album.

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