Crowning of First Nonblack Miss Hampton University Creates Stir

The historically black university has never had a nonblack beauty queen before.

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Two weeks ago, Hampton University crowned its first nonblack Miss Hampton University. Saying that the news caused a stir on campus probably doesn't capture the full mood at the historically black university.

In fact, the new Miss Hampton, 22-year-old Nikole Churchill, wrote to President Obama and asked the first black president to speak to her classmates about racial tolerance, the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., reports. Churchill, who is from Hawaii, told the newspaper that her father is from Guam and her mother is Italian. The senior was selected by a panel of judges over nine other Hampton University students for the coveted crown, and she'll move on to the Miss Virginia pageant.

"I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent," Churchill writes in her letter to Obama, "but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making toward accepting diversity."

Pageant Director Sheila Maye told the Daily Press that she was surprised at the outpouring of both support and protest in the Hampton community. "We have all kinds of people on our campus; we are not in a cocoon," she says. "As far as I'm concerned, we need to get her ready to serve HU and to move on and represent us at Miss Virginia."

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