Black women are queens. We already know this. If we look at our history it’s clear to see that we descended from greatness. However, it seems as if we’ve lost our way. Sure, the “woke” movement that’s taken over black culture in recent years has us celebrating our identity. But, I find that our women deal with so many internal and external battles that provide them with obstacles that threaten to break them. Yet they push on. That’s why I love black women.
The fact that black women succeed in a society that views them as less than and inferior amazes me. Black women have taken the task of loving and affirming themselves because no one else will. Alas, the Miss Black USA pageant was created! The pageant was created by Karen Arrington in 1986 to promote the success of young black women around America. The first Miss Black USA was Tamiko Gibson, who represented Maryland. Since then, the competition has maintained its relevance in black society. Personally, I knew nothing of the pageant. Sure, I’d heard about it before but I never really paid attention to it. Then, I saw young women on my social media start to dawn to title of Miss Black -insert city in Georgia here- and it drew my intention. Then, I met Johnna Foster.
Johnna drew my interest. Her demeanor exuded poise and confidence. I first ran across her in person at the FVSU freshman week cookout. You could tell that she knew that stood out among the crowd. She rocked a white sash around her shoulder that had “Miss Black Fort Valley” embroidered on it in burgundy letters. The white sash sash accentuated her mahogany brown skin. Her natural hair was her crown!
I knew that I had to find the time to talk to her about her new position and I finally got the chance. Here from Miss Black Fort Valley below!
Randall: Please tell me a little bit about yourself!
Johnna Foster: I am Johnna Foster, 2016 Graduate of THE Fort Valley State University. I am a second generation of FVSU graduates. I am the daughter of Johnny and Verdell Foster, Classes of ’85 and ’86. I’m a Substitute Teacher with a dream to become a Middle School Counselor. I love to dance, I love to read, and I’m all about family.
Randall: Congratulations on becoming Miss Black Fort Valley! Explain what the position of Miss Black Fort Valley is and what it entails.
Johnna Foster: Thank you so much! The Miss Black USA Organization is different than many other pageant systems. Every single one of our queens are African American! The Miss Black USA Organization empowers women to own their power and celebrates their unique talents, traits and beauty. As Miss Black Fort Valley, I will represent the city and compete in the Miss Black Georgia USA Scholarship pageant in November. My goal is to win a scholarship so I can continue my studies and go to graduate school at FVSU. Miss Black Georgia USA Pageant’s main objective is to motivate and empower African American women through service, sisterhood and cultural awareness. As Miss Black Fort Valley, I will be promoting my platform, serving the community, as well as being a positive role model to young girls and young women.
Randall: Tell us about your experience at Fort Valley State University?
- Clubs & Organizations
During my matriculation, I was a part of both Football and Basketball Cheerleading Squads for four years, P.H.A.S.E.S Basketball Dance Team for two years, as well as S.T.R.E.A.M, and Foreign Languages Association.
- Social Experience
My social experience throughout my years at FVSU was phenomenal. The yard was always full of students, and there was always an event on campus to go to. Since my friends and I were all in different organizations, I was constantly introduced to students, alumni, and business owners in the area. Maintaining these relationships really made my matriculation so memorable.
- Freshman Year (2011)
My freshman year was a roller coaster but it was the best. I came to FVSU in fall 2011. At the time, it was the biggest freshman class FVSU had ever had. It started off slow because I was very shy. My parents gifted me with my very first cellphone on freshman move in day. This was the time before Snapchat, Instagram, and even iPhones became popular. I graduated from Northside High School in Warner Robins. Even though I went to a local high school, only three of my classmates ended up going to FVSU. I had a hard time with making new acquaintances and introducing myself to my peers. I used to drive home during the week and on weekends so I wouldn’t have to sit in my dorm room alone. I hadn’t joined any clubs or organizations until I ended up trying out for FVSU Basketball Cheerleading Squad during their video tryouts and I made the squad. That really turned my freshman year around.
- Do you miss being at FVSU?
I can honestly say I do miss being at FVSU but I’m glad my time as an undergraduate came to an end! lol I have grown so much since graduation and I’ll never forget what FVSU has instilled in me. I do plan on attending FVSU to get my master’s degree in School Counselor Education. As you know, the FVSU experience is like no other. No matter what is happening, we always have each other’s backs. I have so many great memories with many great people that I will never forget.
- Young Alumni Experience
My experience has been great so far. My parents are FVSU Alumni so they have pointed me in the right direction as far as joining an Alumni Chapter to make sure I give back to the University and community that gave so much to me. I thought joining the Warner Robins Area Alumni Chapter as a recent college graduate would be intimidating, but everyone has been so great and so helpful.
Randall: What made you want to become Miss Black Fort Valley?
Johnna Foster: Growing up, my family made sure I was always a part of Fort Valley’s culture. I performed at events such as the homecoming parade, dance recitals in the community, Little Miss FVSU pageants, entertainment for luncheons, and many other events as well. I was blessed to have met and been mentored by successful African American men and women. As I got older, I realized everyone didn’t get the same opportunities that I was blessed to have. I knew there had to be a way to give back and represent the City of Fort Valley along with my University.
I’m a Substitute Teacher and I noticed that many of my students didn’t have any local role models. Many of my middle school students have role models that are rappers, reality tv stars, athletes, but they weren’t looking up to anyone in our own community. Olivia McMillan won Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, and Betty Cantrell had just won Miss America.
I was so happy for our local queens but they did not look like me. That’s when I realized that I could be a role model for young girls. I always had a dream to compete in statewide and national pageants but it wasn’t until 2016 that I decided I would do what it takes to become a part of the Miss Black USA Organization as Miss Black Fort Valley USA. As destiny has it, the once in a lifetime chance came in 2017. I am so thankful that I was chosen as Miss Black Fort Valley and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.
Randall: Have you ever been on FVSU’s Royal Court?
Johnna Foster: I have never been a part of FVSU’S Royal Court. I ran for Miss Freshman but I was not successful. However, I was a part of the coronation of the 77th Miss Fort Valley State University, Jessica Hatcher, as Miss Cheerleader.
Randall: What is your platform?
Johnna Foster: My platform is Domestic Violence Awareness. I chose this platform because I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. According to Justice Bureau statistics, African-American women are victimized by domestic violence at rates about 35 percent higher than white women. In the African American community, domestic violence is not a subject that many people discuss until it is too late. If I had known the warning signs of an abusive relationship, there is a possibility that some of the things I went through could have been prevented, and I could have walked away.
I want to make sure young people know the warning signs and when to ask for help in a potentially dangerous situation. I want to define domestic violence for young people. I want to make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves. I want others to know that it isn’t always just physical abuse. It could be emotional abuse, damage to property, calling someone 57 times in a row, and that is not okay. I want anyone in a bad situation, male or female, to know that abuse is not love and it is not their fault. If I could help at least one person, I will have done my job.
Randall: What can we do to help you become Miss Black USA? We’re ready and willing!
Johnna Foster: Well to become Miss Black USA, I will have to become Miss Black Georgia! There will be a Miss Social Media award and it will be awarded to the queen with the most likes on the official Miss Black Georgia Pageant’s Social Media pages. I will let you know when so we will be able to get the word out!
Randall: When is the Miss Black USA Pageant?
Johnna Foster: Miss Black Georgia USA Scholarship Pageant is November 19th at Albany State University. Tickets will be $35, and $15 for children 10 and under.
Randall: Do you have any upcoming events or appearances?
Johnna Foster: I am planning a self-defense class for men and women with FVSU Campus Police. It will be the week before homecoming and also free and open to the public. I will be making appearances during different events during homecoming as well!
Randall: Where can we find you on social media?
Johnna Foster: I have an official Miss Black Fort Valley Facebook and Instagram. Both handles are @MissBlackFortValleyUSA. My email address is [email protected]
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.