Women and girls strut glitzy and glamorous ball gowns Saturday up and down the runway at the Spirit of the Texas African American Museum Beauty Pageant.

“The intent of our Spirit of TAAM Pageant is to pour back into our community through the dedicated efforts of our past and future queens, the enthusiasm and interest of seeing our community progress forward,” said Executive Director Gloria Washington.

The Tyler museum held its second annual beauty pageant Saturday at Bethel Bible Hope Church featuring Tiny, Little Miss, Jr. Miss, Miss and Senior Miss categories.

Davon Ferguson, Ms. Juneteenth Queen 2021; Ianthia Fisher, Crockett mayor; Candace Cofer, community spokeswoman; and Tatiana Jones, the mother of Miss Mini Juneteenth 2021 Miracle Jackson, were judges for the pageant.

Each contestant participated in three categories: sportswear, historical tributes, and the formal wear competition. Awards were given for Best in Pageant, Miss Congeniality, Most Photogenic and the crowning of the queens from each age bracket.

JaRiyah Green was crowned Tiny Miss; Rihanna Davidson was crowned Jr. Miss; Brenae Allen was crowned Miss; and Roteavia McCowin was crowned Sr. Miss. Best in Pageant and Miss Congeniality was awarded to Green, and Most Photogenic was awarded to Allen.

Ch’Tory Buckner participated in the Sr. Miss division. While she wasn’t crowned, Buckner will become a TAAM ambassador to continue spreading awareness about the museum and its mission.

“It takes guts to get up there,” Ferguson said. “I’m glad I was here and being able to participate and watching all these beautiful ladies participate and hopefully achieve more.”

She said she hopes this year’s queens keep up the momentum to bring awareness to the TAAM.

McCowin has myasthenia gravis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

“It’s important for me just to let it be known that for anyone else who has a rare disease, you’re not alone, and I will fight with you,” she said.

McCowin also advocates for special education because she has two special needs children. She is also a Girl Scout troop leader and plans to use her new title to encourage young girls to be confident. She also hopes to be a role model older and plus-sized women.

“A lot of women my age just feel like [they’re] too old or plus-sized ladies,” she said. “It doesn’t matter. You are here. You are beautiful. Go out and shine.”

It’s essential to let the Black community see that TAAM is growing and that the organization cares about young people — not just girls, but young men, too, Washington said.

“We want them all to excel,” she said.

Ferguson and Washington said they encourage young Black women to participate in the pageant next year, and there are plans to include young men in next year’s program.

“Don’t be shy. Come out and take part. Represent your community, your city, represent you and your family. It’s important that we do that. We are all queens, so we have to let it shine,” Washington said.