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Soija Cameron, a Racine resident, has been named Miss Juneteenth 2022. The Case High School graduate earned herself the crown and the title on June 11. Ava Collier-White, a Prairie High School graduate, was the 1st runner-up.

The Miss Juneteenth pageant took place at the Dr. John Bryant Center, 601 Caron Butler Way, after a 15-year hiatus. The pageant is a part of the week-long Juneteenth celebrations hosted by the City of Racine. In addition to the city’s support, the Professional Women’s Network for Service and Chase Bank sponsored the event. While enrollment was lower than hoped for, the new Miss Juneteenth is hopeful that next year more girls will be inspired to compete.

Juneteenth Day importance

Cameron says, ” I have always been interested in competing in a professional pageant with a platform to extend my résumé, and I figured Juneteenth is a holiday that does not receive enough recognition or celebration.”

Juneteenth Day is a federal holiday observed in the United States. This day commemorates the emancipation of enslaved black Americans. Since 1865, Juneteenth Day has been celebrated as a way to celebrate freedom, but also the culture of black Americans.

Prior to the pageant, the “Strength in Her Stride Cancer March” took place at the Dr. John Bryant Center. The Sisters Network Southeast Wisconsin (African American Breast Cancer Support group) hosted the event the morning of the pageant. The pageant then kicked off at about 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Miss Juneteenth 2022, Soija Cameron – Credit: Brian Bruce Photography

The Miss Juneteenth is more than a beauty pageant. It is a celebration of joy, sisterhood, and a deeper understanding of our history.

Sisters of Professional Women’s Network for Service

Pageant sparks conversations

Among this year’s contestants were some of Racine’s finest, including Soija Cameron. The 18-year-old decided to use the pageant as a way to spread awareness about gun violence and the recent events that have taken place in Racine.

“I want to address the problems and issues we have in the Racine community to hopefully spark a change so we can evolve,” expressed Miss Juneteenth 2022. Now with a crown on her head, she’s destined to go into the community striving to help others. On the horizon for Miss Juneteenth will be opportunities for mentoring and providing guidance to young girls.

The pageant required contestants to promote a social cause that they are passionate about and to advocate for it. One of the phases of the competition was a private interview. It was worth 35% of the total score. This phase of the competition took place virtually and judged the contestants on their overall communication skills. Cameron was able to speak out about her platform when being interviewed.

“I chose the social impact of addressing gun violence because Racine is becoming a place where citizens no longer feel safe in. We can not have an event, funeral, or gatherings without violence or a shooting breaking out. It is really sad and heartbreaking to hear that another family has lost a loved one every week. Violence should never be the first option, our city needs to do better for the safety of our families and children.”

Phases of competition

Soija Cameron performs “Miss Celie’s Blues” (also known as “Sister”) from the movie, The Color Purple. – Credit: Brian Bruce Photography

Along with promoting this initiative, Cameron performed a musical theatre dance to “Miss Celie’s Blues,” choreographed by Kelli Bertone. She is Cameron’s dance teacher at the Academy of Dance. Her talent score counted for 35% of her overall score.

Soija Cameron competes in the talent competition of the 2022 Miss Juneteenth competition. – Credit: Brian Bruce Photography

Another area of the pageant included the contestants answering an on-stage question. This portion of the competition judged both Cameron and Collier-White’s personalities and ability to communicate in front of an audience. It was worth 15% of the overall score.

Last but not least, Cameron got to show off her glitz and glam during the evening gown phase of the completion. Cameron wore a light purple, sparkly dress. It was the same dress she wore to prom this year, where she was also crowned the Case High School prom queen. The evening gown category counted at 15% of her score as well.

While Cameron takes in her new role and begins reigning over Racine, she is also preparing to continue her education at Southern University. Until then, Miss Juneteenth will embark on a journey to help others throughout Racine.

Juneteenth Day Celebrations

Visit the City of Racine’s website to view a comprehensive list of the Juneteeth Day Celebrations taking place in Racine. In addition, The Burlington Coalition for Dismantling Racism (BCDR) will host Burlington’s 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration. Visit their website for more information about the local event.

Events

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