The pageant world lost an iconic and history making figure this past weekend. Chelsi Smith, a Houston, Texas, native, succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 45 on Saturday, September 8, 2018. Crowned Miss Texas, Miss USA and Miss Universe in 1995, Chelsi Smith became the first biracial woman to win all three pageantry titles in history.
Having been raised by her grandparents in southeast Houston, Chelsi was no stranger to wrestling with issues concerning her identity as a biracial woman. Her mother was white and her father was African-American. While competing on the pageantry circuit, she objected to being identified solely as black. “If people are going to know me,” Smith told the Houston Post, “I just think it’s important for them to know I’m half-black and half-white and that it hasn’t been a disadvantage.”
Among the many things Chelsi Smith will be remembered for is her decision to use her notoriety to combat racism and her courage to call others to acknowledge all aspects of identity concerning biracial and multiracial individuals.
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Source for photo: Monty Brinton / CBS