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An NT. I don't consider myself beautiful I'm damn far. I feel that if I thought the North America Pageant were just a beauty pageant that I wouldn't be able to take part in it. I was asked at an interview if I thought I was beautiful and I said No I don't. And they said well then do you think that the judges and
interviewers and people that need to get that tell you you're beautiful are hypocrites. And just for myself. Being able to take part in the Miss America Pageant and be myself I cannot accept the fact that I and beautiful. I really don't believe I am. I was as Cheryl Brome from Jamaica in New York. You know she is a student at Luther College and decorum. One birthday three new Oldsmobile olds and several county fairs ago Cheryl Brown was being entertained by the Junior Chamber of Commerce and Davenport. And though she may not consider herself beautiful that night in Davenport someone did. You or. The. The.
Supply of the. Watch this America pan for as long as I can remember my mother and I would sit there and Saturday nights and we'd watch from the beginning and do our own judging in the street and we picked the wrong person anyway and we can see you watch. And you wonder that and you say well you know I wonder how a girl manages to get to that point but it's never anything we can say that you know even you know it was just the type of thing with
people. It seems that beauty pageants are like sunshine. There's always one happening somewhere every year over 70000 pretty girls sift through thirty five hundred local contests. Not only is there a missed somebody for almost every animal vegetable and mineral substances known to man. But every organization with more than a quorum correlates a sweet young
thing to represent them. There is Miss firefighter Mr VFW. And Miss Black America. Until this year the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City could have been called Miss White America. That's why I was candidate Cheryl Brown. Well spend a lot of time being interviewed. She is the first black contestant in the pageant's 50 year history. Looking back over those years it's come a long way in more ways than one. No one was worrying about a depression. In fact no one worried about much of anything. And compared to some of the National
diversions on the tape. And with near-beer. Anticipating today's transportation mess it was the age. To discover that initially the Miss America Pageant is like finding out the John Waynes real name is Mary and Morris a.
Newspaper writer and some local businessman dreamed up the idea to blog for another week. In the early pageants of the time often swingers and represented. There were contestants in the first pageant and the winner was a 16 year old from Washington named Margaret. Unclear. But one can ascertain not which measured. She was awarded $450 during the Depression. She has beauty contests career would have been somewhat limited and the 20s. For. Former Miss America wrote a book titled How to win a beauty
contest and she suggests among other things that would be Miss Americas practice by smiling at mailboxes and lamp posts. Cheryl Brown has not had much time to grant inanimate objects. She will have plenty to do. Impressing live judges memory long way of Davenport is considered one of the tops and beauty pageant judges in the country. I've been associated with the Miss America Program for the past going on 11 years and judging a young lady both local and Norton. They have a solution. Three faces in the evening gown and the talent in the swimsuit competition competition we take into consideration her personality interview and her presentation on stage in the evening gab and she is creating a picture of good taste that she of course is not heavily made up that she has a great deal of poise and walk gracefully. And of course in swimsuit competition we're looking for a graduate who that
has a nice shape. Maybe we could say beauty of face and beauty of form and it is just a well-rounded American girl representing all of young American womanhood liberated American womanhood may find this philosophy a little difficult to swallow. But there was one aspect of the Miss America pageant that the most ardent detractor must understand and it is pure Americana in excess of a half a million dollars is given annually on a local and state level and of course the national finals has a $60000 scholarship program involved. All of those 50 state Queens participating in the Miss America Pageant will each receive a thousand dollar state scholarship and a $500 national scholarship for just participating for just appearing at the Miss America pageant. And for appearances if it is a commercial appearance there is a fee involved. And she possibly again depending on the desire for the reigning queen
she could make anywhere from maybe three to five thousand dollars during her reign in personal appearances. Now in some states such as Miss California which is a very large state she's very busy and Miss California possibly could make anywhere from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars. And our reigning Miss America will probably make around a hundred fifty or hundred between that and $200000 and personal appearances. The first I heard about Sheryl was good and Barbara was if she were roommates Les Paul and Barbara started writing home about Sheryl but I didn't think anybody could be this great I thought that she she was overemphasizing this very thing and then she came on with Barbara and spend the October break your word with us and we got ignored and I realized there were things that Barbara said about Cheryl was true and we enjoyed her thoroughly.
And though I had never seen her dance. Guys are talented at the edge and I knew this girl was going to she. She also sings like a bird. She. I don't know whether she's told you about her educational background or not but she's on the Dean's List carries three majors in college and I think did it. I think I know your parents are very proud of her and I'm proud to have her as my daughter's friend my friend during the summer. She stayed with Walter Stephens of Bettendorf close relationship with her roommate's family allowed her to relax and to avoid thinking about Miss America. I have to kind of not think of what will happen if I win the Miss America contest. It's much easier for me to go to the contest and be relaxed to be myself and really enjoy the experience. If I don't worry about it and if I begin to think about what's going to
happen there things will have to be down and it will be changed it will be added. It will make the whole experience much more intense. And I will begin to worry about what goes on at the pageant. Begin to matter. Definitely one way. Whether or not I win. And once that happens then I can enjoy the pageant and I can't be myself because I begin to take the pageant that seriously. Then the pageant can begin to change me. I don't want to think about is not sure I would go at least top five. If not it will and really won't surprise me one bit if she won Miss America. It really wouldn't. This girl is she's amazing. I know nothing about ballet and what I'd seen on TV but her muscle control is just utterly
fantastic. She she's come on every minute. I don't know whether I'm saying the right things about ballet or not but to me this this girls talent is just. Something that I didn't think I'd ever see. This. Right. And spent her high school years at the Manhattan School of Performing Arts America contestants are not always so well prepared for the talent competition.
For instance one year Miss South Carolina dazzled the pageant audience by playing the Miss America theme at three different speeds and won another victorious Queen played tea for two on the piano which was understandable since it was the only song she could play. In 1949 Miss Montana rode a horse on stage and almost candidate into the orchestra pit that incidentally ended animal routine. But the most curious entry in the 25 years of talent competition occurred in 1948. Runner up that year was movie actress. Miles who frankly admitted that she had no talent at all except getting married and having children. She wasn't kidding. She got married three times and had four children. That. Got me. This is the davenport and
it is a respite and a hectic schedule with children stems from experience as a dance teacher and a children's ward worker at Bellevue Hospital in New York. That's why we got here. I think children are really interesting and rewarding. They're really quite unique in that you have a child you can find. Almost all of the characteristics that you'll find in any adult. And many times they make a lot more than a child and they do an adult. And you can learn an awful lot from a child. About people in general and about yourself as well.
They have and they are going away and bringing things out about a person that you never knew where you were trying to hide for a long time. I'm right here to employ. You. This is Mrs. Cecil Miller who for the past two years has been the Miss Iowa chaperone at Atlantic City. Where we've been asked about. Our girl. The rule is whether or not they live in the state and whether this matters will ensure a particular case. She is not and I will girl however this is the stands to reason because most girls are great many girls go out of state to the college of their choice and the pageant is held while they are in school. Now last year it was either 22 or 26 girls in Atlantic City
for the Miss America pageant. I did not live in the state that they represented but this this is the reason for it. Last year we had a girl that had never been on a bottle. It was cold. She was born on a farm in Delta. And actually until pageant time I don't say she did been any further away than just a few maybe a hundred miles or more. You know I just can't believe that it's been a whole year ago already that I was in it and it feels kind of funny now to be I have been actually. But the idea has been and never was. I would just give Cheryl all the encouragement I could to go out there with a not so serious of an attitude really as kind of an off the cuff deal because you're going there to have a good time and I think if I could go back again I would do things just a little bit differently not be so extremely emotional but then I can. Because of my appearances were in the smaller communities
here and everywhere I go in the small communities I found a certain bond within the people the friendships everything. They seem like one large family. Lead. Lead. You hide.
Behind. I. Am impressed. This is the tranquility. For country. And. Openness of the people. I found that people tend to accept it quite readily. And it's a lot different than that of New York and even though most of the central and southern I was quite flat. I like the flatness but I think I think I like the area around the corner there. I think it will probably be because of the hills in that area. But I enjoy it because the town area you know seemed to be
just like it in the tween hills and I like the scenery and the view. A.
The but. OK.
I want to thank you for. Your book. You're one for UK. OK. OK. OK OK OK OK. I am. Thanks to. You.
You're. OK. Thank you. Just to get a break. I think it might. People are harping on the fact that I'm the first black to attend the Miss America pageant. It should be treated as any other community. I think they've come to realize that it's going to be stressed and perhaps that it should be. It is the first to an extent it's of great importance.
For the black people. I hope that'll give black girls the incentive to end it feels like it. I think that for some time and many of them have been quite reluctant to enter a lot basically because they felt that. They wouldn't be accepted as a.. Certainly many of them are still going to think there was a lot of discrimination are that. You know I just have the title now as a form of tokenism. But hopefully for many it will bring them to realize that they can aspire and accomplish the same things as anyone else. If they can do this then I think it's OK. It will be pretty much the same this year. Bert Parks like a Tom
Sawyer with 50 and 75 million TV viewers waiting for one of them to grow. But there is something new and it was 50 years coming. And because she decided to go to school with a grand a beauty pageant will never be the same again.
Producing Organization
Iowa Public Television
Contributing Organization
Iowa Public Television (Johnston, Iowa)
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Program Description
This documentary is about Miss Iowa 1970, Cheryl Browne, as she prepares for the Miss America contest. She was the first African American contestant in the pageant.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
local communities
A Public Affairs Presentation of IEBN
IPTV, pending rights and format restrictions, may be able to make a standard DVD copy of IPTV programs (excluding raw footage) for a fee. Requests for DVDs should be sent to Dawn Breining
Copyright IEBN 1970
Media type
Moving Image
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Director: Beyer, John
Director: Photography: Phillippi, Wes
Editor: Phillippi, Wes
Editor: Rumme, Carl
Narrator: Williams, Carl
Producer: Beyer, John
Producing Organization: Iowa Public Television
Production Assistant: Rumme, Carl
Production Assistant: Thorpe, Roger
Video: Thorpe, Roger
Writer: Beyer, John
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Iowa Public Television
Identifier: 8D13 (Old Tape Number)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Dub
Duration: 00:28:10
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Chicago: “Cheryl,” 1970-09-04, Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “Cheryl.” 1970-09-04. Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Cheryl. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from