In 1983, Vanessa Williams made history by becoming the country's first black Miss America.
Then, less than a year later, she was forced to resign when Penthouse magazine published photos of her posing naked with another woman.
So, in sum: A pageant based on judging women for their looks disgraced a woman for, ultimately, showing off her looks. Apparently, sexualizing women's bodies is only OK if Miss America signs off on it.
Somehow, though, the pageant got Williams to return to its stage not only as a performer but also as a head judge last night.
After covering Amy Grant's "Oh How the Years Go By," the unexpected (well, actually, it was pretty expected) happened: Miss America's CEO, Sam Haskell, hopped onstage to apologize to the dethroned beauty queen.
I have been a close friend of this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years. You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984, when you resigned. Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today's organization, I want to apologize to you. ... I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are, and the Miss America you always will be.
After 32 years, you're probably thinking, "Too little, too late" — and you would be right. But hey, it's something. And Williams seemed to appreciate it.
"Thank you so much, Sam. So unexpected, but so beautiful," she said, in acceptance. "I did the best that I could, in my reign as Miss America, from 1983 to 1984."
Watch the entire exchange here:
What do you think of Haskell's apology?
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