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     TODAY in HISTORY: Vanessa Williams Wins 1983 Miss America Title!

September 17, 2015
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On This Day: September 17th 1983

 

On this day in 1983, 20-year-old Vanessa Lynn Williams was crowned Miss America, the first African American to win the crown!

 

The historic moment was a major turning point in the pageant’s 63-year history (For the competition’s first 30 years, blacks weren’t even allowed to become contestants!)

 

Williams’ reign was cut short when she was forced give up her crown less than a year later after nude photos of her surfaced that had reportedly been shot when she worked for a photographer before her pageant days. Despite the scandal, the former pageant queen later launched a successful singing and acting career, selling more than 7 million records worldwide and received Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations for her work through the year.

 

During last Sunday’s national broadcast of the Miss America pageant, Sam Haskell, the executive chairman of the pageant, apologized (after 32 years) to Williams (now 52) and her mother for the way his predecessors handled the controversy. Williams was serving as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant when the unexpected apology came.

 

Source: History.com/Image: nydailynews.com

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