ociela_gibson_web.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. — In this year’s competition, 30 contestants, from 28 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands are vying for top honors in the upcoming Miss Black USA Pageant taking place Aug. 8-13, including the finals scheduled for Monday, Aug. 13, 7 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.

The Miss Black USA Pageant and Scholarship Foundation Inc. is redefining the 2012 edition to emphasize all attributes that contribute to today’s successful African-American woman – mind, body and spirit.

Leading up to the pageant, visitors to the Miss Black USA website, missblackusa.org, may cast votes for their favorite contestants in the 2012 People's Choice contest. The winner will be announced at the pageant finals on August 13. Voting, through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 12, costs $1 per vote, with no limit on votes. Tickets for the pageant are on sale now at wepay.com.

Karen Arrington, CEO of Miss Black USA, said that the scholarship pageant with the theme “Black Women Redefined” reflects the American black woman’s rising role in leadership.

“For the first time in history, we have an African-American First Lady, a black woman on the top of the Forbes Richest Women in Entertainment list, and African-American women who are in positions of prestige and power at organizations like Xerox, Care USA, Microsoft, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The World Bank,” she said.


Reigning Miss Black USA winner Ocielia Gibson made history as the first Miss Black Texas to win the national title of Miss Black USA. The native Texan with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Texas Woman's University has performed in distinguished recital and concert halls including the renowned Carnegie Hall.

In 2006, Gibson founded an empowerment organization dedicated to instilling the message of true beauty to young women of color. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work including in 2009 becoming the youngest woman to receive Ebony magazine’s Unsung Hero Award for her work with young African-American women.

Ocielia is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Women's Ministry, and aspires to become an international speaker, author, and advocate for discounted girls and women.


More than 80 percent of the contestants are enrolled in graduate or professional school. Miss Black Nevada has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a practicing physical therapist. Miss Black Georgia is a practicing attorney.

Miss Black USA was founded in 1986 to provide educational opportunities to outstanding young African-American women. To date, the pageant has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships.

Deya Smith, Miss Black USA 1994 and producer of the nationally syndicated radio program the Tom Joyner Morning Show, will co-host the 2012 pageant along with R & B recording artist Brian Christopher. Sponsors include the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, School of Film & Television, Heart & Soul magazine, Black Opal Cosmetics and Arik Air.

The pageant will kick off with a VIP Red Dress Reception at the Washington Hilton Hotel to raise awareness of heart disease, the leading killer of women. Miss Black USA is a national partner of the Heart Truth Campaign, as well as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

For more information about the pageant visit missblackusa.org, or contact Joelle Polisky at joelle.polisky@missblackusa.org or by phone 615-516-0358.