Winning and ‘breaking barriers’ is nothing new for Clark Atlanta University (CAU) student Kennedy Whisenant, as she became the first Black woman to win the Miss Georgia Collegiate American Pageant. 

Whisenant, a Birmingham, Alabama native, is a junior Fashion major at CAU. She plans to continue to work in the pageant industry after graduation, with the hope of one day owning a pageant dress store of her own. 

“My first pageant that I competed in was Miss Alabama Teen US and I was 15,” Whisenant said. 

She spoke about the racism that she endured throughout her pageantry career and the descriptive distinction of pageants across the state lines of Alabama and Georgia. 

“Georgia has some of the best directors in the nation,” Whisenant said. 

There were many obstacles she faced, but her time in Georgia was more acceptable than in Alabama.

“I have seen that Georgia is more open-minded when crowning minorities,” Whisenant said.

Whisenant says it was not uncommon for her to be first, as she held the title of becoming the first African American for Miss Alabama Collegiate in 2019. “Growing up in Alabama, it’s either you are the first or you’re the never,” she sadly stated.

Whisenant raised concern on why she became the first, but she was not surprised.

“Why did it take this long for there to be African-American representation in those states?” Whisenant asked. 

She continued to discuss her reasoning behind withstanding the pushback from her counterparts and community. 

“If I have to be the first and I have to experience scrutiny for being the first, at least it won’t be so bad for the second. You know, it makes me feel like, ‘Okay, let me take the heat!’” Whisenant said passionately. “Because if this means that ten years from now when one of my little sister Queens is in pre-K or kindergarten who becomes Miss Georgia Collegiate, or whatever title she decides to obtain. She doesn’t have to go through it, then me going through it doesn’t even matter.”

Whisenant later told the Atlanta Voice the plans she has for her reign and her journey to Miss Collegiate America. 

“The plans I have are to not only bring more attention to the African-American community but more specifically, Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a whole,” she emphasized. 

It is more than just glitz and glam when it comes to holding the title for Miss Georgia Collegiate. 

Whisenant explains this through the organization’s platform ‘BRAVE,’ which stands for building respect and value for everyone, an anti-bullying platform. 

“Throughout my reign, I plan to travel across the state of Georgia to implement ‘BRAVE’ seminars into the classrooms and curriculums,” she said. 

Kennedy advises women in the Pageant Industry that it’s a “lot of self-work” to prepare for a title like this and “make sure your heart is in the right place”. 

Whisenant gives thanks to her family and her ability to be one hundred percent herself during her pageant journey. 

“Vulnerability is the main reason why I can say I am successful,” she continued.

Kennedy Whisenant being crowned Miss Georgia Collegiate. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kennedy Whisenant)

Alexis Grace is a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a current Graduate student at Agnes Scott College. During and after her time at CAU, she has worked and interned for several publications...