Vanessa Williams made a triumphant return to the Miss America stage last night (Sept. 13). Three decades after becoming the first Black woman to hold the title, she got an apology from Miss America’s CEO for how things were handled after she stepped down from the throne due to a nude photo scandal.
“I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years,” CEO Sam Haskell told Williams. “Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams.”
“I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be, ” he continued.
Williams won the title in 1983, and held the crown for 10 months. Penthouse magazine later published naked photos of her that were shot before she gained the prestigious title. Despite Williams’ resignation, many speculated that the pageant came down too harsh on her, and made her forfeit the thrown.
After the apology, Williams went back her judge’s seat, and helped decide to crown 21 year-old Betty Cantrell of Georgia as Miss America 2016.
— Miss America Org (@MissAmericaOrg) September 14, 2015
Congrats, Vanessa and Betty.