#AtoZ 1968 – “M” is for Miss America


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Miss America

The contest to find Miss America 1969 was held in September 1968. The protest, also known as ‘No More Miss America!’ was attended by hundreds of feminists and civil rights advocates. The organizers of the protest set up a “Freedom Trash Can” on the Atlantic City boardwalk and tossed in such items as mops and brushes, pots and pans, high heels, curlers, and false eyelashes, as well as the restrictive undergarments so many women wore (girdles, corsets, and bras). They unfurled a large banner that read “Women’s Liberation” and that movement suddenly received worldwide attention.

The feminists marched with signs, passed out pamphlets, and crowned a live sheep. They decried its emphasis on an arbitrary standard of beauty.

Note: On the same day, and also in Atlantic City, African Americans and civil rights activists gathered to crown the first Miss Black America. The winner was nineteen-year-old Philadelphia native Saundra Williams, who had been active on the civil rights scene prior to the competition.

A to Z badge 2

BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #30 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin

Will She Win?


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A young woman named Theresa Vail is competing this weekend in the Miss America pageant. She’s 22, a sergeant in the US Army, an M16 marksman, a bow hunter, and a mechanic. And she sports two rather large tattoos on her torso, which will be visible during the swimsuit competition.

She says she “loves breaking stereotypes.” One of the tattoos is the Serenity Prayer, the other is the US Army Dental Corps insignia.

Miss Vail originally planned to show off her marksmanship skills for the talent portion of the competition. She was going to shoot some bows, but two days prior, she was informed that “projectile objects” are forbidden. Oh no!

So, within 48 hours of finding out she couldn’t show off her archery skills, she learned opera. She sang “Nessun Dorma” (made popular by Pavarotti). That drew attention to Theresa Vail.

What do you think? Is America ready for a tattooed Miss America? Is you were one of the judges, would it matter to you?

The 2013 Miss America pageant airs Sunday, Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. on ABC.