If you are ever on a college campus where the Divine Nine is represented, an extension of the Miss Black and Gold Pageant won’t be hard to find. A national pageant system created by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.,the Miss Black and Gold Pageant is uniquely designed to showcase the scholarship, talent, and beauty of undergraduate women. It has been so successful in this mission that many women have launched mainstream pageant careers from their foundation in the Miss Black and Gold system.
Michelle Brown was a sophomore at Illinois State University when she decided to become Miss Black and Gold. There was no guarantee, as it was her first pageant, but Michelle saw the undergraduate competition as the perfect fit to pursue her interests in mentorship and the arts while  expressing community and university pride. This week “5 Questions” discovers how the statuesque beauty’s desire for campus involvement became her countdown to the crown.

     1)  Why did you decide to participate in the Miss Black and Gold system?   
I decided to participate in the Miss Black and Gold system because I loved how it  takes pride in young, African American women. There are many young girls who suffer from a lack of confidence due to their color and pageants such as Miss Black and Gold embrace those who do not fit stereotypical standards of beauty. This pageant helps to encourage young women to be comfortable in the skin they are in. I have used this pageant as a way to reach out to young girls and help them to see the beauty they possess inside and out.
     2)  What sparked your interest in pageants and are you considering another competition in your future?
I have always been a firm believer in stepping out of your comfort zone in order to expand your horizons, discover new strengths (or potential weaknesses), and educate others from your experiences. It was those beliefs that led me to be involved in pageantry. As for the future, I do plan on entering another pageant because I enjoy being a part of something that is bigger than myself, and pageants are a great way to voice and carry out the mission of your platform.
3)    What was the best piece of advice someone ever gave you, and what advice do you have for any girls getting into pageantry?

As corny as this may sound, the piece of advice that has stuck with me since elementary school is a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than You.” My advice to any girl beginning her pageant career is to stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Too many people associate pageants with being “fake” and “superficial”, but in reality they are an outlet for young women to showcase who they really are to the world. Pageants are an opportunity to promote individual beauty as well as intelligence, so let the people get to know YOU! 

4)    With the holiday season upon us, what is your go-to beauty secret?
With the harsh winter weather creeping up on us, the first thing that usually suffers are your lips. To avoid dry, chapped lips I buy Nivea chapstick, specifically A Kiss of Softness, because it is affordable and effective. I also would recommend Maybelline Baby Lips.

      5) What do you think the recent presidential election says about the future of our country?
Specifically with this election, I saw more of an effort from my peers and the youth of the United States as a whole to be involved in and informed about the election process. This excited me because it shows that my generation is becoming more concerned about the future of our country. With that being said, as President Barak Obama enters his second term his plans for change and better assisting the lives of the working class and women will be more evident since he has more time to implement his ideas.


      Quick Facts!

  • Name: Michelle Brown
  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Grayslake, IL
  • Education: Junior Psychology Major at Illinois State University
  • Titles: Miss Black and Gold 2011 of Eta Tau Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  •  Organizations you support: Boys and Girls Club of America; Smart Sprouts Mentoring Program; Black Student Union; My Sisters Keeper
  • Contact: mnbrown@ilstu.edu

Imani Josey

Imani is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. After graduating Howard University in Washington, DC, Imani received her Masters from Northwestern University. Sometime during all of that studying, she danced professionally for the Chicago Bulls as a (Luvabulls) cheerleader, and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Read her short story “North” in the forthcoming Hidden Youth anthology, out November 2016 by Crossed Genres.

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