By Stacy M. Brown
The genius, intelligence, beauty and spirit of Black women, which continues to transform the world, shined brightly again Sunday as Nia Franklin became the first Miss America in the post-swimsuit era.
“It took a lot of perseverance to get here,” Franklin, the freshly crowned beauty queen, said after her win. “I want to thank my beautiful family, my mom and my dad, who is a survivor of cancer.”
An opera singer, Franklin is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and earned her master’s degree in music composition from UNC School of the Arts, according to her biography as reported by CNN.
She moved to New York after being accepted at the Kenan Fellow Program at Lincoln Center Education in Manhattan.
During the competition, Franklin described how music helped her find her identity.
“I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school and there was only five percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin,” Franklin said. “But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was.”
Her win set Twitter and all of social media ablaze.
“Congratulations to our new Miss America,” famed radio and television personality Donnie Simpson said. “Nia Franklin represented New York and won the crown last night. She’s obviously very smart, very talented and absolutely stunning. I’m so proud.”
Another popular radio show host, Michael Lyle, Jr., also couldn’t contain his joy for Franklin.
“Huge congratulations. Well-deserved and another reason why Black Girls Rock,” Lyle said.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association – the trade organization that represents 220 African American-owned newspapers across the country – said Franklin’s win is just another statement on the outstanding achievements of Black women today.
“The NNPA Congratulates 2018 Miss America, Nia Franklin. The genius, intelligence, beauty and spirit of Black women impact and transform the world,” Chavis tweeted.
Franklin, who plans to advocate for the arts during her tenure as Miss America, told reporters that she was also happy that the swimsuit competition – which had been part of the overall contest throughout its 92-year history – had been discontinued.
“I’m happy I didn’t have to wear a swimsuit,” she said. “I’m more than just that.”