Huffington Post Blogger & Muse

Gabrielle Reed, the reigning Miss Black Michigan USA is a 19 year old young woman who is intent upon creating a better world with her pen. She is a writer, classically trained singer, Huffington Post blogger, entrepreneur, and activist. She recently added the title of author to her resume, as she just released her first book, a collection of poetry, called These New Eyes. She unknowingly started writing These New Eyes at the age of 17 during her freshman year of college to document her different experiences while dealing with depression. Then at the age of 19, she realized that the words she wrote could help other people find themselves and their own identities. 

During her reign, she is committed to raising awareness for mental health as well as social equality. She sees herself as being "crowned with class and consciousness"; showing young women of color that inner beauty, elegance, and intelligence never goes out of style. Inspired by God and her mother, she will succeed at whatever she does. 

Right now, she is a student at Lansing Community College, but her dream is to finish her college career at New York University to double major in the dramatic writing arts program and business marketing. Her end goal is to run her own entertainment and production company and bring fresh, diverse content to the big screen and the radio airwaves.  

When Activism + Beauty Meets

Justina Hawkins, the reigning Miss Black Nevada USA 2017 is a 20-year-old scholar at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Upon earning her Bachelors in Psychology in the Spring of 2018, Justina plans to earn a PhD and specialize in the treatment of mood disorders within the young to middle aged population.   Justina is a member of not one, but two national honor societies.  The business savvy beauty minors in Marketing and plans to expand her future business endeavors into the cosmetics and apparel industry.  

The campus activist and student leader is a someone you need to know.  She currently holds the office of Vice President of New Member education within her chapter's honor society and slays in the classroom.   

Future Education Secretary

Darinisha Williams, the reigning Miss Black California USA 2017 is leaving no child behind.  The 24-year-old beauty is a strong advocate for change for children in the education system, especially children with disabilities.  Darinisha attends graduate school at California State University, Los Angeles, in the Masters in Counseling program specializing in School Psychology and will graduate in May 2017.

Currently working as a Behavioral Specialist for children with disabilities and a paraprofessional for a charter school, Darinisha plans to pursue a PsyD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in multiculturalism.  Inspired by her younger brother with Autism, she plans to one day open her own agency to provide services for children with disabilities.

And the Next Stop is Broadway

Every since she was cast in her first musical at a community theatre at 8-years-old, she has not been able to get enough.  Because who doesn't want a world where everyone bursts into song and dance.  Quesley Bunch, Miss Black Indiana USA 2017 dreams of the day she sees her name on a huge marquee in New York City.  The singer, ballroom dancer, dance instructor, vocal coach, guitar and piano player has her sights on Broadway.  In the meanwhile, she's promoting her  love for the elderly community through her platform "Preserve the Pearls:  Elders Abuse Awareness".  It focuses on the importance of our elderly communities and the love, kindness and respect that they deserve because without them we have no future.  

Growing up in a large family consisting of six brothers, has given her a great appreciation for family.  Of course, they are her #1 fans.

Dream + Sparkle + Shine

They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Aeesha Rashelle Magee, the reigning Miss Black Louisiana USA 2017 believes in leaving people better than when you found them. The 20 year-year-old sophomore Nursing major at Southeastern Louisiana University is shining her light throughout the state of Louisiana.  When not promoting her platform S.P.A.R.K.L.E, which stands for Sustaining Positivity while Restoring Knowledge, Leadership and Education, she's very active on campus.  The future pediatric nurse is a member of her university's NAACP, Black Student Union, Elite Women Networking Organization and also serves as a 2017 Orientation Leader.  The former high school beauty queen, senior class president and scholar also enjoys playing softball and dance.  

Beauty and Brains

Jalessa Webster, the reigning Miss Black Tennessee USA 2017 is an alumna of Middle Tennessee State University, located in her hometown- Murfreesboro, TN.

The 23-year-old beauty earned her Bachelor of Science degree is in Political Science, with a concentration in Pre-Law and a minor in Spanish.  Jalessa is currently employed by the Vanderbilt Law School, Office of the Dean and plans to attend  Law School in Fall 2017.   

In her spare time, Jalessa enjoys spending time with family, and mentoring young girls in her community.   

The Multimedia Maven

Her motto is I CAN, I WILL, and I AM, and this Savannah native is a force to be reckoned with. In her community, she shatters stereotypes by being a role model, coaching young girls to embrace their confidence while growing her career as a print/commercial model in the fashion industry. She promotes overcoming obstacles, as a motivational speaker, at various etiquette schools, churches, leadership camps, and youth detention centers. Shaunii practices what she preaches by being a face for renown companies such as Anthropologie, Hewlett-Packard, Visit Savannah, Enmarket, and The Limited despite her full body birthmark that causes discoloration of her skin. Her beauty is more than skin-deep, learn more at shauniirawls.com

A honors graduate of HBCU Savannah State University, Shaunii is a triple threat in the multimedia world. She films, edits, and hosts video interviews for her “movers and shakers” blog, Spotted By Shaunii, which received the SSU Dept. of Journalism & Mass Communications 2016 award for Best Website/Blog.

Shaunii dedicates her life’s work to her younger sister who suffers from sickle cell anemia, a debilitating disease that affects the body’s red blood cells. Because sickle cell disease carriers do not present visible wounds, the severity of the pain is often underestimated. It is a life-threatening disease plaguing the African American and Hispanic communities. Her platform for Miss Black Georgia USA is “Strut for Sickle Cell” which brings awareness to the struggle of Sickle Cell Anemia Warriors through fitness, food, and fashion. Since she has seen firsthand the strength that it takes to be a sickle cell survivor, she is driven to shine a light on the disease, a cure, and the people who endure through it with the Miss Black Georgia USA crown. 

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Third Grade Teacher & Lit

The woman who thinks she can and the woman who thinks she can’t, are both right. Ranecia Hamilton, the reigning Miss Black Wisconsin USA thinks by living through faith anything is possible.

Ranecia is a celebrity makeup artist who recently turned in her makeup brushes to serve as Teach for America Corp member.  Ms. Hamilton believes that all children deserve a valuable education regardless of race, economic status, or circumstance. She spends most of her days putting in work with her 33, third graders.

The 26 year-old beauty is a graduate of her favorite HBCU, Lane College. There she earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Sociology.

When Ranecia is not teaching or working on her Masters she is advocating for civil rights, writing spoken word, or dancing to her favorite tunes.

 

Justice For All: This is What A Top Attorney Looks Like

Saidah Grimes, the reigning Miss Black Maryland USA, embodies the phrase "knowledge is power."  After graduating from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law with honors, Saidah began practicing real estate law in one of the largest law firms in the country.  For her excellence in negotiating sophisticated real estate transactions, Saidah received the honor of being named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine.  Prior to attending law school, Saidah graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business where she quadruple majored in international business, corporate finance, global supply chain and operations management and marketing and minored in Spanish.  Her dedication to learning and experiencing other cultures inspired her to study abroad in Spain, Argentina and Brazil where she also received a competitive grant to research international procurement and sustainable sourcing of commodities. She is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese.

During her reign, Saidah intends to promote awareness to issues surrounding the juvenile justice system and its need for reform.  As a law student, Saidah interned at the Office of the Public Defender for the Juvenile Division in Baltimore, Maryland where she advocated for youth who were arrested and accused of crimes, winning her first criminal trial prior to graduating law school. "Being Miss Black Maryland USA is an opportunity to advocate for young people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law," Saidah explained. Her platform called "Plug the Pipeline" aims to educate parents and legislative officials on the inherent link between school-based arrests and school disciplinary policies and the growing number of youth in the justice system. "When schools fail to understand how to teach students with disabilities and misidentify their actions as delinquent behavior, these students may find themselves on the wrong side of the law." Saidah dreams of starting a nonprofit focused on helping kids learn effectively advocacy skills to inspire the next generation of prospective attorneys. Join Saidah's efforts to #plugthepipeline.

 

Two-Time College Graduate

Top fashion model, Midori Amae, Miss Black Virginia USA holds a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Literature and a second Bachelors of Arts in Studio Arts.  The top fashion model represents the future of fashion.  Inspired by the style of Jackie Kennedy, Alexander McQueen and Oliver Rousteing.  As a model, host, brand ambassador and creative director in the industry for 10 years, Midori Amae is a moving force towards the future of beauty and fashion.  After back-to-back seasons in MBFW, NYFW and Couture Fashion Week, she became DCW50's America's Next Top Model Fan Favorite winner and, months later, Creator Director for i-Fashion Magazine with over 800,000 subscribers.  She has show campaigns for Fiat, Margaret Persuad, and Lexus, to name a few.

Community She-ro

Organizer, Pageant Coach and Model, Kristy D'Anna Johnson, Miss Black Mississippi USA is currently a second year graduate student at Mississippi College, studying to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  Upon completion of her Master's Program, she will attend the University of Alabama's Psychology with a concentration in Law Doctoral program to become a Behavioral Analyst.  She is a 2013 Spring graduate of Jackson State University, with a Bachelors of Psychology.

Kristy is very active in her community and throughout the state of Mississippi in many capacities including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, youth Advisory Council for the Mississippi chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Counseling Association Member, Girls with A Dream Organization, Kountry Kidz Incorporated, a 2016 inductee into the Chi Sigma Iowa Counseling Honors Society, and various youth organizations across the state.  Kristy enjoys being a mentor and organizer.  She lives for the youth because her vision is to one day dismantle the "school to prison pipeline", a phenomenon that is affecting our youth today.  

 

Chicago's Game Changer

Miss Black Illinois USA 2017

Miss Black Illinois USA 2017

Alleson Knox, Millennial Role Model + Activist + Miss Black Illinois USA 2017 is using her girl power to make a difference.  If asked to describe herself, the Howard University alumna, would probably reference pop culture and characterize herself as the infectious charismatic Olivia Pope mixed with the love Chance the Rapper has for Chicago, and add a whole lot of Beyonce's tenacity and work ethic.  Unapologetic in her Black Girl Magic, the beauty and former two time professional NBA dancer and stresses the idea of imperfection and getting dirty.  She says, "Sometimes in our work, our crowns shift.  We have to roll up our sleeves, put on our Timsbs, and get in the trenches."  Alleson aspires to continue leaving her mark on the world as a social entrepreneur and influencer, encouraging others to do and be good.  

 

"Everything you get, you got work hard for it." - Notorious BIG

The Next Oprah

Miss Black Florida USA 2017

Miss Black Florida USA 2017

Hailing from la isla de Cuba, the reigning Miss Black Florida USA 2017, Leyanis Diaz is a professional, bilingual Afro-Latina Blogger, TV Host and Multimedia Personality, Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, and an avid Philanthropist based in Miami, Florida.

The 2015 Florida International University (FIU) alumna's journey started in Cuba about two decades ago.  She was born in Havana and emigrated to Miami along with her parents, when she was 3 years old in search of the American Dream. 

As Miss Black Florida USA, she promotes and advocates for minority empowerment through health, education, entrepreneurship and self-love, while also working with organizations and businesses to promote Florida as a hub for diversity, creativity, and opportunity. Leyanis presently works with CNN en Español, the Embrace Girls Foundation, Health in the Hood, Dream Defenders, the South Florida Black Business Directory, the Women of Color Empowerment Institute and is a Leadership Fellow for the FIU Lilian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication, hoping to make a profound impact in her community during her time as Miss Black Florida USA, while also empowering young black and brown girls along the way... and she's just getting started! She's got BIG dreams and her sights on the 2017 Miss Black USA crown

 

The Brown Ballerina

Miss Black New Jersey USA 2017

Miss Black New Jersey USA 2017

Daphne Lee began her dance training at the Rahway Dance Theatre under the direction of Ms. Jay Skeete-Lee. She graduated with Honors from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A program in dance and is a recipient of the Denise Jefferson Scholarship award. Ms. Lee received scholarships to Jacobs Pillow, School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and is a regional gold medal recipient in dance for the NAACP ACT-SO competition.

Ms. Lee was also featured in the opening video for the Mrs. Carter World Tour for Beyonce and was featured in a short film, “Life of An Actress” by director Paul Chau. Daphne performed works by Robert Battle, Benoit Swan- Pouffer, Amy Hall-Gardner and Alonzo King among others and was assistant choreographer to the musical “The Color Purple”. She has danced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was a cast member in the sixth season of Dance212′s online reality series. She has even graced the pages of Dance Magazine and was featured cover for the April Edition of Dance Mogul Magazine. The NAACP National Act-so competition invited her to be a judge in 2015.  Daphne was also featured in Elle Magazine and the Village Voice.  She currently dances for Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, TN and will be receiving her MFA in Dance at Hollins University

This is What A Pastor Looks Like

Miss Black Iowa USA 2017

Miss Black Iowa USA 2017

Growing up she wanted to wear a black robe as a judge.  Today, she wears one as a Pastor.  From the pulpit to the national stage, Brittany Hanlin captures the 2017 Miss Black Iowa USA crown.  The 27 year old beauty + scholar graduated from Howard University and went on to receive her Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School.  She is a Pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines, Iowa.   Brittany's power message to young girls... "Believe in God's call on your life.  Believe that you are worthy of good things.  See yourself how God sees you, beautifully, wonderfully, and deliberately created."