Floridian’s new book explores role of Black beauty queens

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Black Beauties
“Black Beauties: African American Pageant Queens in the Segregated South’’ was released on Feb. 3

SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER

TALLAHASSEE – Four global pageant titles are currently held by women of African descent. While the world is celebrating the well-deserved representation, Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum is taking a deep dive into what pageantry has meant to the African American culture in some of its most trying times.  

“Black Beauties: African American Pageant Queens in the Segregated South’’ explores the social activism of pageantry and how it was used to uplift racially oppressed communities of color. The literary work gives an inside look into dozens of queens and their journeys.  

The foreword for the book is written by Erica Dunlap, Miss America 2004. “Black Beauties: African American Pageant Queens in the Segregated South ‘’ was released on Feb. 3.

The women featured in the book represent various generations, professional backgrounds and societal echelons.

‘Resilience and Strength’

While the women share those differences, they all had something in common: they represent the longstanding cultural resilience and ingenuity of African American communities. 

“These women are leaders. Pageantry requires a very high level of confidence. For these women to do this in the face of racial and class adversities displays their resilience and strength,” says Brown Pellum.

These Black beauty queens offered a great sense of pride for their communities when the world was intentionally demeaning and destructive. They resisted by embracing and being themselves – wearing Afrocentric styles, natural hair and bold fashion statements. 

“Black Beauties’’ is a useful reference for all, especially Black women and girls. It shares stories of empowerment, fortitude and pride.

About the Author

With a degree in U.S. history from Howard University, Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum specializes in the history of women’s images, southern culture and the Black Freedom Struggle.

Her contributions to publicly accessible history include work at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the Rosa Parks Museum and Google’s Arts & Culture series.

She is the director of the digital archives project, The Museum of Black Beauty, and serves as a member of the history faculty at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

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