History was made in Tennessee on Saturday night after Brianna Mason was crowned Miss Tennessee, making her the first Black woman to hold the title.
The 23-year-old elementary school teacher and Nashville native took home the crown after competing in the pageant for four years.
Dedicated to increasing visibility for young Black women in the pageant circuit, Mason said, “I’m here to tell you that it does not matter what your skin color is. It does not matter what your religion is. You can do anything you want.”
Last year, she competed as Miss Knoxville and was second runner-up.
“I can’t even put into words how special this is,” Mason said during a press conference following her win. “I have been competing for so long, and there’s a Miss Tennessee room with portraits of all past Miss Tennessees, and none of them looked liked me.”
As the newly crowned Miss Tennessee, Mason, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee, received a $15,000 scholarship and a chance to compete in the Miss America pageant on September 8.
With Mason’s crowning, she is in good company; earlier this year, the nation’s top pageants crowned three Black women as their winners: Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, Miss America Nia Franklin and Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris.