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Miss Iowa Breaks Barriers: Iowa Time Machine June 14, 1970

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 14, 1970, Cheryl Browne won the title of Miss Iowa. Moving on to the Miss America pageant, Browne gained distinction as the first African-American woman to compete in the long-running event.

Raised in Queens, New York, Browne headed west to attend college in Decorah on the advice of her Lutheran minister. After entering and winning a Miss Decorah pageant, Browne went on to wow judges at the Miss Iowa competition with an original ballet performance for the talent competition to the music of 'Scheherazade. Combined with top scores in the swimsuit competition, Browne captured the crown.

Moving on to represent Iowa at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, Browne continued to break barriers. Although Browne didn’t make the finals, her participation represented a historic step forward for a competition that intentionally excluded persons of color under ‘rule no. 7.’

“Iowans were very accepting of me, but I think it took the country by surprise to realize that it was a young woman from Iowa who became the first African-American contestant,” Browne said years later. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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