50th Mr. and Miss Black OSU gives contestants an opportunity to advocate for issues

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Miss Black OSU 2020 Keona Marie Tidwell was crowned during the Mr. & Miss Black OSU Scholarship Pageant Saturday. Her platform is Nightlife, an organization to help homeless youth.

The Student Union Theater rippled with excitement and anticipation Saturday night as the audience waited for the winner of the 50th Miss Black OSU to be announced.

After handing out the other awards, it was finally time to crown this year’s Miss and Mr. Black OSU. Parents and supporters held their breath hoping to see their favorite contestant become royalty.

It was only a moment, but after what seemed like ages, the winners were called forward.

The theater erupted in cheers as Braeden Shaw became the new Mr. Black OSU. Then, with tears in her eyes, Keona Marie Tidwell received her crown.

“It feels so unreal. I didn’t really expect to win, and it was a lot of good contestants that I competed with," Shaw said. "Now I can really try to attack my platform like I want to.”

On Feb. 8 OSU held the 50th Miss Black OSU and the fourth Mr. Black OSU. Shaw was selected out of three contestants and Tidwell out of four.

The Mr. and Miss Black OSU pageant is not just a beauty pageant. It requires the contestants to have a platform, power, and pride. The winners receive a $1,000 scholarship, but they gain more than money and a crown.

“[The pageant] is important because it gives students of color the opportunity to present their platform or solve an issue,” said Marhia Mitchner, the 2018 Miss Black OSU. “I love how you just you have a chance. It gives you a chance.”

The Miss Black OSU pageant was founded in 1970, and since then it has given 47 women the opportunity to tackle issues they find important. Mr. Black OSU was founded in 2016.

This year’s contestants brought topics like mental health, black excellence and body positivity to light. Shaw’s platform was the harmful effects of toxic masculinity. Tidwell competed for the growing number of homeless youth in America.

“It just means that I can absolutely live my dream and follow up on my platform and just basically be the voice for all the homeless youth and all the children that are in the system,” Tidwell said.

Maria Sol Ramirez Saenz, Ms. International OSU 2019, was one of the judges. She said she thinks the pageant is important because it helps build a strong community and shows black pride.

“We met the contestants this morning and we had private interviews where they talk about their platform,” Ramirez Saenz said. “The winners of the title today are not only going to be a representative of the community because of their talent, but also they’re going to be spokes people for the whole year.”

The impact this event had on the community was clear; The theme of the pageant was power and pride, and each contestant exemplified that in their own way.

“It is so important because as small as we are here and to have a king and a queen... it's very inspiring for others that want to be that way,” Shaw said. “I feel as a freshman, I am only 18, and to have this crown, I feel like I can inspire other people around the African American community.”