Miss Oakland 1968
In 1968, Tanya Dennis was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the first African-American to wear the crown. She then became one of the early African-American to compete for the title of Miss California.
Miss Dennis was the first of three (in a row) African-American Miss Oakland’s.
In June of 1969, Miss Dennis competed with 36 other girls from throughout the state for Miss California.
Miss Dennis won the talent division with an exotic African ballet.
Miss Dennis was the third runner-up in the Miss California pageant.
Miss Oakland 1969
In 1969, Laomia McCoy was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the second African – American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.
Miss McCoy sang a selection from “Porgy and Bess” to win the talent category in preliminary judging and Miss Redlands, Susan Anton took the swimsuit honor.
Susan Anton won the title of Miss California and Miss McCoy was one of the runner-ups.
Miss McCoy was 19 at the time of the competition and student at Merritt College.
Miss Oakland 1970
In 1970 Theresa Smith was crowned Miss Oakland becoming the third African-American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.
Smith competed alongside 35 contestants for the title of Miss California.
The Miss Congeniality, an award voted by the contestants was awarded to Miss Oakland, Theresa Smith, she was also honored for being the most talented non-finalist dancer in the competition.
Miss Smith was 20 years old at the time of the competition and a student at the University of California.
The officials at the Miss California State pageant refused to allow Miss Smith to perform unless she dropped the “offensive” word, “Black,” from her recitation. It hadn’t been offensive in Oakland.
Black Beauty Queens Denied Rewards
Laomia McCoy and Theresa Smith, Miss Oakland of 1969 and 1970, held a press conference to discuss that they were treated unfairly and racially discriminated against by the Miss Oakland beauty pageant’s sponsors.
“if they had it to do all over again they wouldn’t have competed in the annual pageant.”Theresa Smith and Laoma McCoy Sept 19, 1970
The Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) was the pageant’s sponsor for the previous 24 years before 1970.
“I feel that they (the Jaycees) have been negligent in communicating with me and supporting me and have failed to bestow upon me the full benefits of my title said, Miss Smith.
Miss Smith charged that she was promised a $1000.00 scholarship but only received $100, was invited to appear at hardly any civic events, and was denied pay for personal appearances.
The Jaycees president said her complaints were just a misunderstanding about what the title involves and that she received the same as previous winners.
Theresa ended up getting only a $100 scholarship which was promised before the start of school. The money arrived after final registration at UC, forcing her “to be faced with an additional fee for be late” in registering.
The Jaycees decided to drop their sponsorship of the pageant after 24 years in 1970, they said they were over budget by $1500.
- Joe’ Became A Beauty Queen – Oakland Tribune May 12, 1968
- Miss California Crowned – Santa Cruz Sentinel June 23, 1968
- Miss America Pageant Bids For Negroes – Santa Cruz Sentinel August 15, 1968
- New Miss Oakland Shows Talent – Oakland Tribune April 27, 1969
- Miss Oakland Wins Talent Contest – Oakland Tribune June 20, 1969
- New Miss California is Crowned – Oakland Tribune June 22, 1969
- Cheers for Laomia – Oakland Tribune May 1, 1969
- Pageant Planning – Oakland Tribune January 31, 1970
- State Maid of Cotton Selection – The Fresno Bee – March 15, 1970
- 12 in Competition – Oakland Tribune April 16, 1970
- Beauty Pageants Still Alive and Well – SF Examiner June 20, 1970
- State Queen – San Cruz Sentinel June 22, 1970
- Beauty: Jaycees Snubbed Me – Oakland Tribune September 12, 1970
- Miss Oakland’s Charges Denied – SF Examiner September 12, 1970
- Charges Hurled in Queens Row – Oakland Tribune September 18, 1970
- Black Beauty Queens Rebel – SF Examiner September 19, 1970