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Posted under: News celebrity

Newest Miss Black America Says She Entered The Competition As Research For Her Ph.D. Dissertation

Brittany Lewis is a doctoral student at George Washington University; she studies black, women's and urban history.

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How many people can say that being crowned the 49th Miss Black America is simply a fraction of their success?

Well, Brittany Lewis can.

The Jersey native has a long list of accolades. She is a Temple University graduate, a third-year Ph.D. student at George Washington University, is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, was part of the National Council of Negro Women as an undergrad and leads a pro-black initiative called "Returning to our Roots: Liberation Through Education" according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

What makes Lewis' win even more interesting is that she entered the pageant not for money or for the title, but for scholarship.

She told Philly.com that competing was “part of my research." Lewis is currently studying 20th century United States history, focusing on women's and urban history, specifically as both relate to black history.

Lewis' dissertation revolves around Atlantic City from 1964 to the mid 1980s. Her research investigates how casinos shaped the city during that time, and their effect on pageants. 

The first Miss Black America pageant took place in Atlantic City in 1968 as that year's Miss America pageant was going on down the street. The location and timing were by design; J. Morris Anderson created the event to protest the Miss America pageant's rule number seven, which explicitly stated that no woman of color could compete. 

Making that year of further interest to Lewis is the fact that a group of feminists gathered outside the Miss America pageant to protest it. 

Just three years later, a young woman by the Oprah Winfrey was crowned the fourth Miss Black America. 

Photo: ABC News
Photo: ABC News

Lewis' research interests peppered her time in front of the judges; one of the highlights of her time on stage was her dance performance to a remix of "Stomp to My Beat" that incorporated audio from a Nina Simone interview.

Photo: Edward Lea
Photo: Edward Lea

Now that Lewis, who was crowned Miss Delaware in 2014, is Miss Black America, she plans to use the influence her position grants her to spread awareness about domestic violence, an epidemic to which she lost her sister. She also plans to write a very dope dissertation. 

Congratulations to Brittany Lewis on her newest accomplishment! 

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