*Vanessa Williams made history as the first Black Miss America but she said the milestone was met with harsh criticism from the Black community.
Speaking to on A&E’s The Table is Ours podcast, Williams said “I was not seen as a 20-year-old, who is a junior in college. I was seen as a symbol but also seen as a Black woman, and also seen as someone who was supposed to represent the American beauty. And there are a lot of folks that did not believe that having brown skin and being a Black woman represented the Miss America ideal,” she said.
“I had death threats. I had sharpshooters when I did my homecoming parade. There were sharpshooters on the top of roofs of my hometown, just because of the threat, the threats that were, you know, against me because of who I was.”
Williams said some of the threats came from “my own people.”
— The Table Is Ours (@TheTableIsOurs) February 17, 2021
“The people that are crazy and want to kill you and your family that’s one thing but it was like my own, my own people,” she said.
“Not only was I getting attacked from White folks saying she doesn’t represent us, but some Black folks saying, oh they only picked her cause she’s light, oh they only picked cause she’s light, light eyes and kind of dismissed my talent, my intellect, and my achievement. So that was probably more hurtful,” she continued.
“It was tough to take that criticism,” she added.