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Young women participate in 'Miss Juneteenth' pageant in Chandler

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-18 01:36:58-04

CHANDLER — On Sunday, people across the country and here in the Valley will recognize Juneteenth. The holiday is an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War. It's when enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom.

ABC15 looked at how young Black women in Chandler are recognizing the day.

Each one mentally stepping into 1865 when on June 19 that year, enslaved Black Americans in Texas were told they were free.

The day is known as Juneteenth.

"A day of freedom. It is important African-Americans are recognized for their trauma and experiences," said pageant participant Hannah Gillespie.

Gillespie and the other participants started preparing three weeks ago for the Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant in Chandler.

"They've learned to walk. They've learned to talk, have their platforms. Just the whole nine," said Pageant Coach Shequan Palmer.

The pageant is making its return after a 10-year absence.

"To recognize these young ladies and to get them involved, to let them know what their history is, which they do know, and to prepare for their future because these are our future leaders," said South Chandler Self-Help Foundation, Inc. President Rodney Love.

Shaundrea Norman, like others, is walking in her first pageant.

"I am not going to lie. I am nervous. But, with those nerves, there is so much excitement with it too," said Norman.

The moment of fellowship in pursuit of a crown, Norman says, is all about bonding.

"It means sisterhood. It means building bonds with facilitators. It means building bonds with younger girls, just being together and creating a prototype for a role model as a new Miss Juneteenth," added Norman.

Organizers tell ABC15, the pageant is more about encouraging leadership development than showcasing beauty.

"This is an excellent way to do it because Black women, as society knows, have been known to not have as much representation," added Gillespie.

"They are hungry. They just need an opportunity or platform to be able to share what is going on in their heads with the things they think about and are passionate about," added Palmer.