The Newly Crowned Miss Hampton University Is Not Black. OMG! was originally published on City Desk on Oct. 13, 2009, at 3:53 p.m.
The historically black Hampton University in Virginia crowned Nikole Churchill its first non-black Miss HU last week, causing what the local newspaper, the Daily Press, politely called a "division on campus." As in, some students walked out of her crowning ceremony, apparently unable to accept the possibility that anyone who is not African-American could be picked to represent the school in a pageant that centered around evening wear, swimsuit and talent competitions. (Another transgression: She doesn’t even attend classes on the main campus!)
The 22-year-old nursing major from Hawaii, whose mother is Italian and whose father is from Guam, felt a little miffed, and she wanted to get some help from a higher source. So she wrote none other than Barack Obama, who knows a thing or two about such matters. In her letter, she described the pageant ceremony as "the best night of my life" but added that she was "sad to say that my crowning was not widely accepted and many negative comments regarding my win have been shared throughout my campus." She asked the president if he might visit the campus "so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent, but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making towards accepting diversity."
And then? She wrote another letter, this one to the Daily Press, apologizing for having been offended and taking it all back.
"I am honored to be the winner of the Miss Hampton University Pageant that was held on Friday, October 9, 2009. On Sunday, October 11, 2009 I posted a letter to President Obama saying that my win was not widely accepted on campus. I have now come to regret writing this letter and disappointing the very students that I now represent. I took the comments of a few and blew it out of proportion. In reality, all comments that have been directed towards me and the reception I received at the Hampton University versus Howard University football game on Saturday, October 10, 2009 were genuinely supportive. Today, I met with student leaders and other elected student officials and they were also supportive. Hampton University has always promoted diversity. In fact Hampton University pioneered American Indian education and has embraced diversity since its inception. I truly apologize to all students, faculty, staff and alumni. It was absolutely not my intention to bring negative attention to the University. I deeply apologize for any misunderstandings that this may have caused and I look forward to working with my fellow students to promote the Hampton University legacy."
So everything’s just fine now. It was her own fault. Score one for racial progress.