Showcasing the beauty, intelligence and poise of women through pageants is a long standing tradition.
Murray State fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha hosts the Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant annually as a part of Homecoming festivities.
The name of the pageant, Miss Black and Gold, is derived from the colors of the fraternity, and has been an annual event of the fraternity since the first pageant in 1976 in New York City at the Alpha Phi Alpha Convention.
The pageant highlights the young ladies who are role models in the community. This is the 28th year Alpha Phi Alpha has hosted the event.
The pageant is tonight at 7 p.m. in Wrather Museum. It is sponsored by local businesses in Murray. Tickets for the pageant are available on the second floor of the Curris Center for $7 and are $10 at the door.
“We have nine lovely contestants this year,” said Ryan Hudson, president of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Each are selected through a screening and interview process.”
The nine contestants for the Miss Black and Gold pageant include Mary Dorr, junior from Paducah, Ky., Hailey Harrington, junior from Princeton, Ky., Keoni Hall, freshman from Memphis Tenn., Shannon Mitchem, freshman from Chandler, Ind., Arlene Johnson, sophomore from Sikeston, Mo., Glenisha McGee, senior from Dallas, Texas, Brittany White, sophomore from Baltimore City, Md., Monyette Shaw, sophomore from Paducah, Ky. and Katie McAllister, senior from Murray.
According to the organization, the contestants are chosen based on their personal views, GPA and their campus involvement.
The women will compete in five categories: interview, business projection, swimwear, creative arts/talent and the final walk and question.
Five judges, a combination of fraternity brothers and past contestants, will tabulate the scores for each contestant to determine a winner.
After scores are calculated, the ladies return to the stage where the first runner-Up, second runner-Up, Miss Hospitality, Miss Congeniality and Most Talented will receive their titles.
One contestant will receive the Quarrels/Elliot award, which is voted on by the brothers of the fraternity. It is awarded to the contestant that is willing to go above and beyond in preparation for the pageant.
Following the awards, one will be crowned Miss Black and Gold and will receive a $500 scholarship.
The winner of the pageant must organize two programs to benefit the community and the students at Murray State.
Proceeds from the pageant will assist the queen in activities for the community.
The winner also has the opportunity to represent Murray State at the state-level Black and Gold competition.
In preparation for the pageant, the contestants practice three times a week until the week of the pageant, where they practice each day. Some contestants choose to go above and beyond practicing.
“I have done some rehearsing outside of rehearsals, especially for the talent portion,” Harrington said.
The contestants also dedicate their time in order to make the event run as smoothly as possible. The weeks prior to the pageant, the contestants dedicate a lot of hard work.
“We have countless hours of rehearsals, selling hundreds of dollars in advertisements and having your speeches, outfits and talent all ready and prepared,” Mitchem said. “It altogether is a challenge.”
In addition to possibly winning the scholarship and title of Miss Black and Gold, some contestants wanted to participate to improve themselves.
“I have been preparing myself mentally by constantly reminding myself that I am doing this to better myself and my self-confidence.” Mitchem said.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.