A high school senior made history at her school by becoming the first Black homecoming queen earlier this year.

Jayla Miller moved from South Carolina to Williamson County in Tennessee in 2020. She became one of the 2,057 students at Independence High School and was eager to make new friends. The senior quickly made her mark. She is the current captain of the school’s softball team and volunteers for the Little League Challenger baseball program for individuals with disabilities.

Miller knew that Independence High School never had a Black homecoming queen in its 20-year history. She wanted to change that. 

“I wanted to kind of make the statement because I was aware that there had never been a Black or person of color as homecoming queen. I really want to do this to because I wanted to be the first,” she told The Tennessean.

Black students account for only 3.4% of the school’s population, according to the news outlet.

“When I heard I was the first, it almost brought tears to my eyes because the school had been open for 20 years, and for not one person of color to have been crowned queen really made me feel like I did something for girls like me,” she told The Williamson Herald. “Especially in this area where there aren’t many African Americans, I think it’s important to be a representation of how you can be a woman of color and a person of color, and you can be successful. You can be queen. You can be strong and powerful.”

School officials expressed how proud they are.

“Jayla is an such an amazing student,” Assistant Principal Steven Pickerill said. “If we could have 2,000 students like her, we would be incredibly lucky.”

Miller’s mother congratulated her on the achievement.

“Not only am I proud of the student-athlete Jayla has become, I am equally impressed with how kind she is to everyone,” Frizzette Miller said. “On the day of the homecoming parade, adults and students stopped me to let me know how kind and considerate Jayla is. One student told me that, every day, Jayla brings love and light to everyone. Hearing that really made my day, and I’m so grateful that she is ‘letting her light shine.”

The senior recently signed to the University of North Alabama for softball. She plans on majoring in journalism and broadcasting. Miller hopes her being homecoming queen can serve as inspiration for other students.

“What I would say to other girls who look like me and grow up in areas similar to where I have is that just because you don’t look like other people around you, don’t see that as a weakness, but take that as a power,” Miller said. “You don’t have to be like everybody else to be successful.”