First African American Miss Oakland

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.

Oakland Tribune 1968

Miss Dennis was the first of three (in a row) African-American Miss Oakland’s.

Oakland Tribune June 1968

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.

Santa Cruz Sentinel June 1968

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.

The Californian June 20, 1969

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.

Oakland Tribune May 1969

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.

Santa Cruz Sentinel June 4, 1970

Smith competed alongside 35 contestants for the title of Miss California.

SF Examiner June 17, 1970

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.

Oakland Tribune Nov 12, 1970

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.

Oakland Tribune Oct 8, 1970

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

Negligent

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.

SF Examiner 1970

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.

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