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“Behind the Crown: The Search for the 1st Miss Juneteenth-VA”

Redefining being ‘Black & Royal.

The search has begun for the Miss Juneteenth - Virginia Queen. Sounds exciting, right? But questions begin to surface when it comes down to what makes up a "Queen." Naturally, we are all queens by birthright; however, the Juneteenth Queen –the Queen of a region, must possess specific qualities to rule. I think most of us would agree on what the standard 'beauty pageants' entail, BUT this pageant is everything but the standard. In our quest to find the 2023 Juneteenth Queen, we have settled on a few guiding principles that we strongly believe will lead us to the royal path. The Juneteenth queen must possess many attributes. The most important attributes include Brains, Beauty, Balance, and Boundlessness. These four (4) attributes alone are what we will discuss in this article. In addition, she must have a strong knowledge base of the origins of Juneteenth and be familiar with Black Culture and historical events that transpired in Virginia and throughout the United States. A pretty tall order, right? Not for a Queen.

Redefining the Standard:

Most folks don't view beauty pageants as a way-maker. In fact, many people believe that beauty pageants are for the spoiled, vain, and semi-talented; a way to be seen. In truth, beauty pageants are far more than that in today's age. Current pageants allow their participants to compete for scholarships, prizes, and other accolades. The biggest myth here is that these pageants rely on the physical attributes of the contestant. This, my dear reader, is not true in today's world. According to historians, the Miss Black America pageant was born in 1968 by a Philadelphia activist, Mr. J. Morris Anderson. He specifically created a “Black” pageant in retaliation to the Miss America pageant’s “Rule No.7” that stated all contestants must be white. This was the very first pageant created for the black beauties of America. Moving forward, as times passed, black pageants started to form from all over the country and have consistently broken the molds on standard beauty definitions. The Miss Juneteenth-VA pageant is no different. It serves to promote, encourage, and boost black contestants to enable their personal and professional goals.

Another misconception surrounds the myth that beauty pageant contestants are just pretty women. This is another false reality. Nearly all participants compete in the hopes that they can win money to help them finish their college journeys. The keyword here is "journeys." The women are actively engaged in a competition that creates an environment of beauty, brains, and resilience all rolled up together. Competing women in the past had dynamic backgrounds that included future scientists, doctors, activists, law students, and so much more. In truth, pageants provide a way to showcase black beauty, black intelligence, and our limitless potential to take the reins and yield progress for ourselves and future generations.

Balance, Boundless & a Beacon of Light:

In the quest for the crown, the 757 Miss Juneteenth Queen should display unquestionable balance, boundless potential & serve as a beacon of positive influence to both her peers and community. In the verb context, balance means to “keep or put something in a steady position so that it does not fall." This attribute is vital because it ensures that she upholds the values and core principles that bring great credit to herself, her community, and the 757FreedomFest organization. In a world full of wonder, technological advances, and an unaccountable social media landscape, we must encourage acts of kindness and compassion when dealing with adversity and when in public view. As a reigning queen, the winner must look at history and current events with an unwavering and unbiased truth. The ‘Build a Bridge” initiative seeks to create an environment that tends to old wounds while addressing new ones and creating solutions for all people. Encompassing boundless potential refers to having NO limitations. The reigning Queen must possess an attitude of limitless aspirations. Mindset is key to a boundless outlook on life. There is no limit to where she might go and what she might achieve with careful preparation. This can-do attitude allows her to soar past any territorial boundaries while changing hearts and ultimately impacting positive change within our communities.

Lastly, Miss Juneteenth-VA serves as a beacon of hope and a living testament of what our Ancestors dreamed of and what “can be.” The greatness bestowed within her is deeply rooted in a love for Black culture and its rich historical contributions to this nation. Additionally, this role comes with serving as a central role model for hundreds of young women across the Commonwealth. Possessing a positive outlook on life while creating dynamic possibilities for future generations to come. “Greatness isn't given; it is earned and transferred onto others like the light from the north star.” This light helps to illuminate paths so others can also find their way. In the end, our Miss Juneteenth will serve as a community pillar and guide to help navigate everyday situations within Black communities.

Let the REIGN begin:

In conclusion, the Miss Juneteenth-VA Queen epitomizes the resilience of our collective past while encompassing the dreams and aspirations of our shared futures. She is not only draped in unmatched intellect but is adorned with grace, favor, and an unequivocal fierceness from within. Her strength and tenacity yield from over 400 years of bondage and bloodlines that hail from multiple millennia of tribal kings and queens. The Miss Juneteenth-VA Scholarship Foundation pageant is an enabler. This pageant strives to prepare (and remind) participants of their cultural strength, community bonds, and their irreconcilable purpose of radiating positive light into a (sometimes) dark and distracted world. What lies “behind the crown” is an unwavering opportunity to learn about ourselves, our communities and to challenge one another in reaching our fullest potential. By redefining our roles and responsibilities to one another enlighten the true meaning of ‘being royal.’ Cultivating the next generation of thought leaders, corporate America, and digital entrepreneurs helps solidify brighter futures for the following generations.

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