Santana, a 21-year-old from Paraná, accepted her crown this past weekend during the final round of the competition, beating out 26 of her peers. After winning the competition, Santana spoke about the emotional triumph not for just her, but for all black women.
“I’m very emotional. This here is a mixture of great emotions,” Miss Brazil shared. “I didn’t expect to win this title, but I am very happy to have won this title and to represent black beauty and encourage girls who have the dream of having something, to conquer, to be a model, to be a Miss… Now I want to encourage these girls and show them that they can.”
The last time a black woman won the pageant was in 1986, when Deise Nunes was crowned. Although 54 percent of the Brazilian population identifies as black or multiracial, the country has struggled with diversity and representation in its media, according to Plus55.com. So, while this may be just one competition, it is a huge milestone nonetheless. Raissa Santana will move on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in January 2017.