Miss America finally apologized for shaming the queen out of her crown.
Whatever you think of the Miss American pageant, Vanessa Williams’ 1983 success was, simply, groundbreaking. So it was devastating for many to watch Williams, the first African-American woman ever to win, lose the title just a year later, after Miss America shamed her for some leaked nude photos. Last night, Williams finally received a dose of justice, when some unexpected people handed her an unexpected gift: an apology.
It might seem like a small token, but it comes with a huge backstory. Almost ten months after Williams received her crown, Penthouse released some nude photos of the model taken before her nomination. When the Miss America organization found out, they silently forced Williams to give up her title—causing no small degree of controversy and pain.
CEO Sam Haskell told Williams, as well as tens of thousands of other viewers, last night: “You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned … Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today's organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams … I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
Haskell comments were, for many, sorely overdue and deeply needed. After receiving her apology, Williams returned to her judge’s seat to help crown the next Miss America. Watch the video of Williams’ total weep-worthy 1983 crowning above.