This year keeps getting better and better for Black women, especially those in the beauty industry. Nobody knows that better than Brianna Mason, a 23-year-old elementary school teacher who became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Tennessee. It’s the first time a Black woman has held the top title in the pageant’s 80-year history.
After her fourth time competing, Mason topped all the women on Saturday at the pageant, held inside the University of Tennessee, ABC News’ affiliate WATE reports.
The first-grade teacher, who competed as Miss Greene County, performed “Piano Fantasy,” which helped push her over the top and win. Mason’s win not only earns her a $15,000 scholarship, but a chance to compete as Miss Tennessee at the coveted Miss America pageant.
This year, we also saw for the first time, the reigning Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA are all black women.
Some beauty pageants date back to the 1920s and used to ban women of color from participating. Even after organizations started changing their rules to accept women of all races, there was still a lingering frustration and opposition.
Only in the last 50 years have black women become more prevalent in these competitions. 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 Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA in 1991.
Mason went to her facebook to not only thanked her supporters, but also reflect on her monumental moment.
“Words cannot express how grateful and humbled I am to be Miss Tennessee and carry on the legacy of this title. To know that God chose me to make history is such an honor. I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams,” she wrote. “I am so ready for this responsibility.”
This year’s trio of national winners includes Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst, a civil litigation lawyer who does pro bono work for prisoners.