Controversy (or Not) Over a Non-Black Miss Hampton U.

October 14, 2009

Nikole Churchill was crowned as Miss Hampton University this month, a victory that was seen by some as significant because Churchill is not black and Hampton is a historically black university. Churchill wrote a letter to President Obama about both her win and concerns that "my crowning was not widely accepted" and that many "negative comments" have been made on the campus because she is not black. She invited the president to visit Hampton "so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent." She told the president that some have called her "lil Obama." The Daily Press published an article about the controversy Tuesday, noting that the campus was divided by whether Churchill should have won, and quoting a pageant official as saying that Churchill did not have the university's permission to have posted her letter to Obama online. Later Tuesday, Churchill gave the newspaper an apology to the university, in which she said of her letter to Obama: "I have now come to regret writing this letter and disappointing the very students that I now represent. I took the comments of a few and blew it out of proportion. In reality, all comments that have been directed towards me and the reception I received at the Hampton University versus Howard University football game on Saturday, October 10, 2009 were genuinely supportive."

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