Vanessa Williams Reflects on Being First Black Miss America, Plus: How She’s Taking Action Against Racism

“Extra’s” own Miss USA Cheslie Kryst chatted with iconic pageant winner Vanessa Williams, who was the first woman of African-American descent be crowned Miss America in 1984.

Of the racism that came with becoming the first African-American Miss America, Vanessa recalled, “As a 20-year-old winning overnight and having my world changed, I was on my path to appearances, so I didn't know what I was doing… My parents were not the only ones receiving the death threats and having a dialogue with the FBI, but trying to allow me to have some kind of safe haven so I wouldn't be terrified."

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