Former and newly crowned Miss Black EIU celebrate 50th anniversary


Rob Le Cates

Jaedah Franks, a sophomore biological sciences major, is congratulated by Yolanda Williams after being crowned Miss Black EIU 2022 on Saturday in the Grand Ballroom.

Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

Past Miss Black EIU winners returned for the 50th anniversary Saturday night to watch sophomore Jaedah Franks be crowned as the 2022 Miss Black EIU.

Jaedah Franks, a sophomore biology major, was crowned Miss Black EIU. Franks described how winning the pageant made her speechless.

“As you can probably see, I did not expect that,” Franks said. “But in these three months, myself and these other young ladies worked so hard on putting on a show for everyone, and we had to do a great show above and beyond because we did not have Miss Black EIU 2021 due to COVID. So we had to do our best and of course put our best foot forward for the 50th anniversary.”

Mikayla Sanford, 2020 Miss Black EIU and Eastern 2021 graduate, came to crown Franks. Sanford said it felt incredible to crown Franks.

“It was honestly very amazing,” Sanford said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for so long because of COVID. And so in 2021 we couldn’t have a pageant. So I was always so excited to be a part of this experience and get to bring other girls and talk to them, watch them grow. I was so happy. It was very surreal.”

Tiffany Alderidge, mother of Jaedah Franks, was in the audience anticipating the crowning of Miss Black EIU. Alderidge thinks that this type of pageant helps show diversity in the Black community.

“I think it’s a wonderful empowerment because it shows how diverse we are,” said Alderidge. “It shows how intelligent we are, and it really gives our young black women an opportunity to show that magic audience black girl magic.”

Brian Franks, Franks’ father, said “I don’t know if I’ve ever been any more proud in my life,” when describing how it felt to watch his daughter win.

There were judges for the event, one of whom was 2018 Miss Black EIU Raven Gant, a biological science major part of the class of 2020. Gabt says that there are so many differences from being in the pageant to being a judge for it.

“To come back as a judge is actually really inviting,” Ganz said. “I’m excited to be here. It’s fun to watch the show from the other end, to understand just what the judges went through, even when it was my pageant until now it’s a totally different experience and just witnessing it was wonderful.”

Sanford thinks that empowering other Black women on campus is important as Miss Black EIU.

“I try to inspire other people by simply just being there because sometimes someone just needs that one person, you know, to kind of help them boost their confidence,” said Sanford. “I believe in confidence and just uplifting other women. And so anything I could possibly do in that area, whether it’s just listening to someone, trying to help them with a problem… That’s the number one thing that I try to do is always be there for the next woman of Black excellence.”


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].