On October 21, Hampton University will make history by crowning their first White Miss Hampton. Last Friday, the historically Black university, who counts Booker T. Washington among its alumni, named Nikole Churchill, a 22-year-old nursing major from Virginia Beach, as Miss Hampton 2009-2010. Churchill’s mother is Italian and her father is from Guam, according to published reports.

Although Churchill won the coveted beauty crown, her win was not met with applause around campus. In fact, she wrote a letter to President Obama expressing the mixed reactions to her news. “It would be much easier to say that possibly some were not accepting of the news because I wasn’t the most qualified contestant; however, the true reason for the disapproval was because of the color of my skin. I am not African American,” said Churchill in her letter. “Despite the unfortunate beliefs that some are saying I should not have won, I am desperately trying to focus on those who believe in me and support me and my goal to represent this beautiful, multicultural campus the very best way that I can.” ESSENCE.com contacted Hampton University for an official comment, but no one was available.

But Hampton is not the first HBCU to elect a non-Black woman for the traditional beauty pageant. Kentucky State University announced Elisabeth Joy Martin, a White English major, as their queen last year.–CM