Sunday, February 25, 2007
Shilah Phillips-The First African-American Miss Texas
Congratulations to Shilah Phillips who made a little Black history of her own on July 8, 2006. She became the first African-American to win the Miss Texas pageant.
She finished first runner up in the 2007 Miss America pageant held on January 29 and narrowly missed joining Vanessa Williams, Suzette Charles, Marjorie Judith Vincent, Dr. Debbye Turner, Kimberly Aiken, Erika Harold and Ericka Dunlap as sistahs who've won the Miss America crown.
As of yet there hasn't been an African-American who has won the Miss Texas USA pageant, but I have to add an asterisk to that statement.
In 1995 Deer Park resident Chelsi Smith won Miss Texas USA. When she was asked by a reporter how it felt to become the first African-American to win it, she replied that she wasn't Black, she was white. She clarified her statement by saying she was biracial but she'd already angered many Black Texans in the process.
It was like rubbing salt in the wound when she captured the Miss USA and Miss Universe titles later that year. I was even more pissed because one of my homegirls, Crystal Dillard competed in the 1984 Miss Texas USA pageant. Crystal almost made history that night but finished as the 4th runner up.
Okay, I'm done venting now. Back to the story.
I'm happy to see a sistah finally break through in the Miss Texas pageant. Pageants are such a big deal in the Lone Star State this one and Miss Texas USA are televised statewide in prime time. The Texas state pageants are traditionally more competitive and tougher to win than the actual Miss USA and Miss America ones with up to 100 contestants.
Texas girls that win the local ones consistently place in the semifinals of both pageant systems. Three Texans have gone on to win Miss America. Eight Texans have won Miss USA with the aforementioned Chelsi Smith becoming Miss Universe. Halle Berry had the misfortune of competing during the unprecedented run from 1985-1989 in which Texans won Miss USA five straight years, otherwise she would have become the first African-American Miss USA in 1986.
Shilah, congratulations and continued success in all your future endeavors.