1 of 17 Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Miss District of Columbia USA 2016 Deshauna Barber was crowned Miss USA, making her the first military service member to take the crown. Barber is also an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce.
2 of 17 Bia Schmidt/LatinContent /Getty Images
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 12: Leila Lopes, from Angola, receives the crown of Miss Universe 2011 from the former Queen Ximena Navarrete at Credicard Hall on September 12, 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
3 of 17
Caressa Cameron is Miss America 2010! The 23-year-old, Virginia Commonwealth University graduate is the eighth Black woman to win the title.
4 of 17
In 2008, Crystle Stewart became the ninth Texan to win the Miss USA crown. The University of Houston grad advanced to the Miss Universe pageant, where, despite falling during the evening gown competition, she finished eighth!
5 of 17
The first Black woman to be crowned Miss Florida, Ericka Dunlap walked away with the Miss America title in 2004! The gorgeous Orlando native is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Currently, she’s pursuing a career in country music.
6 of 17 Donna Connor/FilmMagic
Miss America 2003, Erika N.L. Harold of Urbana, Illinois, walks the runway after being crowned Miss America 2003.
7 of 17 Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 14: Miss USA 2002 Shauntay Hinton attends the 58th Annual Columbus Day Parade on October 14, 2002 in New York City.
8 of 17
Lynette Cole was no stranger to pageantry when she was crowned Miss USA 2000—she was also Miss Tennessee Teen USA 1995. And in 2000, the Puerto Rican-American stunner became the first woman to place in the top 5 at her state pageant, Miss USA, and Miss Universe.
9 of 17
Not only did Chelsi Smith make history by becoming the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Texas, USA, she would also become the first Black Miss Universe in 1995.
10 of 17
Kimberly Aiken was only 18 years-old when she won the Miss America 1994 crown. Today, the former accountant is an image consultant and motivational speaker.
11 of 17 Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
CENTURY CITY, CA - MARCH 13: Miss USA 1993 Kenya Moore attends the Starlight Children's Foundation of Southern California's 'The Child In All of Us' 10th Annual Humanitarian Award Salute to Arsenio Hall and Fourth Annual Children's Friendship Award Salute
12 of 17
Hawaii-born Debbye Turner was born to be a beauty queen! She was first runner-up in the Miss Black Teenage World pageant in 1981; and in 1989 she won the Miss Missouri title and went on to be crowned Miss America 1990. These days, Turner is a reporter and contributor for CBS News’ The Early Show.
13 of 17 George Rose/Getty Images
WICHITA, KS - 1990: Miss Michigan Carole Anne-Marie Gist, is crowned Miss USA at the 1990 Wichita, Kansas, televised ceremony. Ms. Gist was the first African-American to win the Miss USA title.
14 of 17
Before she was an Oscar-winning superstar, Halle Berry was Miss Ohio 1986. Here, she struts her stuff during the swimsuit competition at the Miss USA Pageant, where she was first runner up.
15 of 17
When Vanessa Williams bowed out as Miss America 1984, she was replaced by her first-runner-up, Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles. The half Italian/half Black stunner was Miss America for a total of seven weeks, and then went on to enjoy a career as a singer and television personality.
16 of 17
In 1984, 21 year-old Vanessa Williams became the first Black woman to win the title of Miss America (the funny part? When she was an infant, her parents wrote on her birth announcement: "Here she is, Miss America!). Despite having to relinquish her title due to scandal, Williams has had a brilliant career in show business, earning Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations.
17 of 17
In 1977, Janelle Commissiong won the title of Miss Trinidad and Tobago, and went on to become the first Black Miss Universe in the history of the competition.
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!