Nina Davuluri crowned Miss America, will continue to educate against racism

Newly-crowned Miss America Nina Davuluri waves to the crowd at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Sept. 15. Photos by Steve Smith.

Newly-crowned Miss America Nina Davuluri waves to the crowd at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Sept. 15. Photos by Steve Smith Photography.

Nina Davuluri traded in her title of Miss New York for that of Miss America 2014, as she was crowned in Sept. 15 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Davuluri, 24, is from Syracuse, New York and is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the national title. She graduated from St. Joseph High School and the University of Michigan. Her career ambition is to become a physician.

“I’m so honored to represent the class of 2014,” Davuluri said of her sister state titleholders. “Thank you to all of those ladies.”

Davuluri thanked Atlantic City and reiterated what was said all week about how the city had “rolled out the red carpet” for the return of the competition and its contestants.

“Atlantic City has been amazing to all of us,” she said. “We were spread across many hotels and every single one of them was so giving and welcoming. It was really an honor to walk that runway [here].”

Nina Davuluri makes a leopard print swimsuit work in the lifestyle and fitness competition.

Nina Davuluri makes a leopard print swimsuit work in the lifestyle and fitness competition.

She added that she was the first Indian-American Miss New York and that she is “so proud to be the first Indian Miss America. I’m so happy that this organization has embraced diversity, especially on the Miss America stage, and that there are children at home who can finally relate to any Miss America.”

Davuluri was asked about the racist reactions to her win, which appeared just after her crowning, on social media such as Twitter.

”I have to rise above that,” she said. “It’s truly, truly an honor for my family, and Indian-Americans, as well. I always thought of myself as first-and-foremost American. I went to school here, and grew up here. There are extreme people who are going to say things, but you have to rise above that, and that’s the platform I have – to promote diversity, not only in the Miss America Organization, but throughout the United States.”

Miss America Organization Chairman of the Board of Directors Sam Haskell said the organization embraces diversity “full throttle.”

“[Davuluri] represents a new generation, a diverse generation, who are making their mark, bringing strength to not only their families and themselves, but strength to the Miss America brand,” Haskell said.

The moment when Miss New York finds out she is now Miss America.

The moment when Miss New York finds out she is now Miss America.

Davuluri said she created her personal platform of Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency after having grown up facing a good deal of stereotypes and misconceptions about her family’s culture. She said she was often asked if she worships cows, or if she is going to have an arranged marriage.

“Many of these remarks weren’t meant to be malicious,” she said, “They were simply due to the fact of ignorance.”

She said that her platform encourages everyone to learn about other cultures, and to incorporate that learning into their daily lives.

Davuluri said, in a private interview with this reporter, days before the crowning, that the class of 2014 has been “amazing,” and the emergence of the sisterhood was something she had heard before, but was skeptical about.

“It’s so true,” she said. “When you spend so much time together with such a great group of girls, you find your bridesmaids here. It’s so true.”

She added that just before the first preliminary night, a bathroom break had caused her to miss a pre-show prayer circle, but Miss Arkansas and Miss Illinois came to her rescue, and formed another mini-circle as the countdown to show time ran down.

“It was a special moment,” she said. “Those are the things we’re going to remember.”

Miss America Nina Daluvuri performed a Bollywood dance for the talent portion of the competition.

Miss America Nina Daluvuri performed a Bollywood dance for the talent portion of the competition.

Mallory Hagan’s passing the torch to her fellow New Yorker is the third time back-to-back state wins have happened. Miss Mississippi was crowned Miss America in 1959 and 1960. Miss Oklahoma earned the title in 2005 and 2006.

For more information, visit www.missamerica.org.

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