Miss America has apologised to Vanessa Williams for taking away her crown.
In 1983 Vanessa became the first black woman to win Miss America. She reigned for 10 months. Then Penthouse Magazine published unclothed photos taken in 1982. Vanessa resigned although she insisted she was pressured to do so by event organisers.
She returned to the stage this year as a judge. She also sang Oh How the Years Go By by Amy Grant in front of headlines about the scandal.
Miss America CEO Sam Haskell joined Vanessa on stage and offered an official apology:
I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years. You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned.
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.
Vanessa replied that his words were “so unexpected, but so beautiful.”
She continued: “I did the best that I could as my reign as Miss America, 1983 to 1984. On behalf of my family, my mother in particular, Brian Edwards, who orchestrated this entire thing to bring me back, and your leadership, your integrity, and you bringing this pageant back to what it ought to be. I love you, I love the girls, and I’m so honored to be back.”