Miss Juneteenth Pageant celebrates its 20th annual event

PASCO, Wash. — The Miss Juneteenth Pageant is celebrating its 20th annual event Friday, June 17.  

Five young women will compete for the crown at the Chiawana High School Auditorium in Pasco.  

Previous winners will also be in attendance, to inspire contestants as they seek to further their education and inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams.  

Antahja Levert is excited to be returning to be attending the pageant as the 2021 title holder.  

“Hopefully I can help at least just one of the girls, or whoever needs it,” she said. “I’m just there to help.” 

Levert is ready to pass the torch to the next Miss Juneteenth Queen.  

When she entered the pageant last year, she didn’t really know what to expect.  

“Luckily, we were able to do all these classes that taught me very important life skills that I can use after high school and just in my life.” 

Elouise Sparks founded the Miss Juneteenth Pageant 20 years ago and serves as the director of the scholarship program.  

“Celebrating 20 years means everything to us,” Sparks said, “because we never imagined we would be here for 20 years.” 

Sparks says the Miss Juneteenth Pageant has never been about beauty. It’s about providing opportunities for young African American women in the Tri-Cities.  

“To see these young ladies that were the past queens come back,” she said, “they’re going to be coming back Friday night. To see them and know that we played a little part in their lives and to further their education and see these grown women now, it’s going to be a joy.” 

Five young women are vying for the 2022 title.  

“This year we allowed 9th graders to be involved, but normally it’s African American girls in grades 10 through 12,” Sparks said. “They have to have a GPA of at least 2.5.” 

Once this year’s queen is crowned, she will have a platform to spread the word about the significance of Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19.  

“[It’s] when the emancipation proclamation was signed and the last people who were enslaved found out they were freed,” Levert explained. “So, it’s a very important holiday not only to African Americans, but everyone in general. And it’s just a day that we get to celebrate our freedom and come together.” 

The Miss Juneteenth Pageant begins at 6 p.m. at Chiawana High School. Tickets are available at the door. They cost $15 for adults, $10 for High School students, $5 for Elementary and Middle School students and children under five can attend for free.   

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