Stephanie Brown ’22 was named first runner-up in the statewide Miss Black and Old Gold pageant held January 31 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The scholarship pageant was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., a national fraternity that has a chapter at the University of Lynchburg.
Brown, a communication studies major, became Lynchburg’s first Miss Black and Old Gold in December when the Sigma Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity held its first pageant. In honor of the chapter having seven members — the same number of African American men who founded the national fraternity at Cornell University in 1906 — they wanted to do something special.
“As we made history this semester, having seven Alpha men on campus, we decided it would be great to start our fraternity’s historic pageant on campus, which recognizes the diligent work of young women within our communities,” chapter event chairman Darian Geddis ’20 said last fall.
Brown’s win at Lynchburg qualified her for the statewide pageant in Charlottesville, where her runner-up placement earned her a $250 scholarship. If, for some reason, the overall winner cannot participate in the eastern region pageant in Bermuda in April, Brown will take her place.
In Charlottesville, like she did for the Lynchburg pageant, Brown performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song often referred to as “The Black National Anthem.” For her version, Brown added an inspirational background video. “A lot of people were telling me they’d never heard a rendition of the song the way I sing it, and that I did very well overall,” she said.
The state pageant included an opening number, which Brown and the other contestants had about three hours to perfect. “We got there Thursday night, practiced from nine to midnight, and learned the opening routine,” she said.
“The theme was homecoming, so we put together kind of a homecoming routine, with a band and dance team. We were the dancers and we wore different school gear that represented our schools.”
There also was a question-and-answer session, where Brown was asked about an opinion she had that might differ from her social group. “I talked about my stance on social media and how sometimes people are quick to be the first to post rather than post the truth,” she said.
Brown said she related it back to the recent death of basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, and “how many media outlets put out false information, to be first, rather than post the truth. That’s one of the examples of how the media has the power to misconstrue our communications as a whole.”