Vanessa Williams: Miss America’s 30-Year Makeover

Can you believe it’s been 30 years since Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America as the first African American to ever win the title? Check out this lovely shot of her as a beauty queen before she had to relinquish her title.

The U.S. has come a long way since Vanessa Williams was crowned the first African-American Miss America 30 years ago today. However, judging from some of the racial backlash against the first Indian-American Miss America, who received her diamond-studded tiara just this past weekend, it looks like we still have a long way to go.

Having only participated in her first pageant six months prior to winning the coveted title, Vanessa Williams was both highly praised and shunned as she showed another side of American beauty. But the barrier-breaking bombshell, who went from Miss New York to Miss America in the blink of an eye, soon felt the backlash of an earlier decision to pose for salacious photos during her freshman year in college. The pageant board asked Williams to resign from her post, and the shamed beauty acquiesced.

America recently made history again when the first Indian-American Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was crowned on September 15, 2013. The fellow New York native faced disdain after she gained her title, but unlike Williams, it wasn’t for any scandal but simply because she was of Indian descent. Davuluri, however, didn’t let anyone rain on her pageant parade, saying that she’s risen above the negativity she’s come across.