Standing (in Heels) for My People

Maxine Leeds Craig

in Ain't I a Beauty Queen?

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152623
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849345 | DOI:
Standing (in Heels) for My People

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This chapter chronicles African American attempts to integrate white beauty contests. These attempts were rarely individual efforts. The contestants often received support from organizations, such as the NAACP, that viewed beauty crowns as worthy goals. Black efforts to integrate white contests paralleled the trajectory of 20th-century African American protest movements, rising in number as the Civil Rights Movement broke down other institutional barriers to blacks. As certain kinds of civil rights victories became commonplace, many African Americans questioned the significance and value of attempts to win formerly white contests of beauty. African American institutions, often representing a broader class base than the earlier middle-class sponsors of all-black pageants, returned their attention to celebrating black women's beauty within African American contexts.

Keywords: African Americans; beauty contests; black women; integration; civil rights

Chapter.  6127 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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