What does it mean to be crowned Miss America? For Marjorie Vincent, Miss America 1991 and a third-year law student at the prestigious Duke University in North Carolina, it was “an accomplishment of a goal that I had worked for for five years and that was a wonderful feeling.”
But the title of Miss America carries with it a great deal more than glamour and celebrity. There is also tremendous responsibility connected with winning the much-coveted All-American beauty title explained Miss Vincent, was crowned last September. “You literally have to put your life on hold for a whole year; it’s not your own.”
She is also almost constantly on the go. “I’ve worked with a lot of national sponsors who support the pageant, as well as making appearances all across the country.” She said. That necessitates having a business manager to coordinate all of her activities, including about two official weeks off during the new year for vacation.
Miss Vincent, who sees herself as a role model for young children – especially those of African American heritage – has decided to focus especially on the problem of domestic violence during her reign as Miss America. She became interested in the disturbing national trend toward violence in the home while doing university research prior to winning the title. She was startled by the statistics showing the extent of abuse and battering (some six million women nationwide are victims of domestic violence each year). Moved by the plight of the women and children trapped in such bitter situations, she has been promoting awareness of the problem as she has traveled in the United States as Miss America.
Last Monday, August 12, Miss Vincent made an appearance here in the Crescent City, holding a press conference at Hotel Le Meridien. Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy was on hand to present her with the keys to the city as well as a certificate making her an honorary citizen of New Orleans.
Joseph Barnes, a local representative of Lustrasilk, one of the sponsors of the Miss America Pageant, was also on hand to present checks for $2,500 to Crescent House and CARE Center, two local agencies that assist women who have been the victims of abuse. The donations were matched by contributions from Walgreen’s Drugs and Beauty Mart, presented by Ed Poindexter and Earl Bradshaw. Lustrasilk and Walgreen’s have made similar donations on behalf of Miss Vincent to shelters in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and Baltimore.
Miss Vincent said she feels that the fact she was crowned by Debbie Turner, Miss America for 1990, who is also black, had a special significance because it “showed a lot of people who thought that I would never win Miss America that there’s hope for them in the future, no matter what they want to accomplish, and I think it was such a great message, and a positive message, to send out to a lot of the young people,” she said.
Having competed in nine pageants, including Miss America, she is now nearing the end of her reign and this particular phase of her life. Miss Vincent plans to return to Duke University to complete her studies then pursue a career in corporate law, all while continuing her special work to send the tragedy of domestic violence.