“Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it,” Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, told the media after her triumphant win on Sunday night (h/t BBC News). “May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine.”
Tunzi, competing for South Africa, took the title over more than 90 women competing in the pageant, which was broadcast live from Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios, the new queen beat Puerto Rico’s Madison Anderson and Mexico’s Sofia Aragon in the final three.
Notably, this year’s competition also included its first openly gay contestant, Miss Myanmar, Swe Zin Htet—whose home country criminalizes homosexuality. And of course, Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst, was also in the running for the crown on Sunday night (and yes, we’re a little confused as to why Puerto Rico and the USA remain separate titles). While she didn’t take the title, Kryst notably included a nod to Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” in her American woman-centric costume for this year’s competition.
Of equal significance to black American women? With Tunzi’s win, all four major 2019 pageant titles now belong to black women, as she and Kryst are joined by Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris. The 26-year-old public relations professional and activist is the first black woman to be crowned Miss Universe since Angola’s Leila Lopes in 2011; Lopes congratulated Tunzi in an Instagram post, writing: “Congrats girl you did us very proud.”