Photo credit: Reuters/ Carlo Allegri
On the same night that "Black Girls Rock!" aired, Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was being crowned the ninth Black woman to win Miss America.
The 25-year-old classically trained opera singer grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and went on to earn a master's degree in music composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She then moved to New York when she was accepted into the Kenan Fellow program at Lincoln Center Education in Manhattan.
"I grew up at a predominantly Caucasian school and there was only five percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin," Franklin said. "But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was. That's what I would encourage young girls to do, find who you are."
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Me walking down the red carpet when I get my first Grammy nomination... DREAM BIG ⭐️ Tonight, one of my dreams came true. Walking in a gown on the Miss America stage was the most amazing feeling. I shared my passion for the arts and how I will continue my work of advocating for the arts, so that every child in our country can have access to a well-rounded education. 🎨🎺🎭#advocatingforthearts Gown: @jovanifashions Gown Sponsor: @cocoschateau
After her win, Franklin said: "It took a lot of perseverance to get here. I want to thank my beautiful family, my mom and my dad, who is a survivor of cancer."
When Franklin's father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she donated stem cells for his treatment. Since receiving a stem cell transplant in 2013, her father has been "alive and thriving," shared Franklin in a recent Instagram post.
Franklin will now use her platform as Miss America to advocate for cancer research and arts education. Congratulations, Queen Nia!