In 1983, Vanessa Williams, a 21 year old representing New York, was crowned the first African American Miss America.
Unfortunately, 10 months into her reign, she was forced to resign due to Penthouse magazine publishing nude photos of Williams without her consent.
Now at 52 and 32 years after giving up the crown, she returned to the Miss America 2016 Pageant last night to sing and in return received an unexpected apology from the organization’s Executive Chairman, Sam Haskell.
After her performance singing “Oh, How the Years Go By,” she was called on stage where she received a live apology.
“You have lived your life in grace and dignity,” said Haskell, “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, Ms. Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you will always be.”
Williams called the apology “so unexpected but so beautiful.”
“I want to thank everyone who has come up to me over the past 32 years and said, ‘You’ll always be MY Miss America,'” Williams said. “I got a chance to be on the stage and represent what I represented back in 1984. Thank you so much for being so welcoming to me.”
According to TMZ, Williams believed the Miss America execs would apologize to her at the beginning of the live show. However, it has also been said that the organization executives expected the actress to apologize for the nude photos first before returning the crown to her.
Williams was not presented with a new crown.
Despite the unfortunate events that took place in 1984, she continued on to have a successful singing and acting career.