[Updated]Racism? Newly crowned Caucasian Miss Hampton writes letter to Pres. Obama

Miss HIU

For the first time ever Hampton University has a “Miss Hampton University” who is not black.

22-year-old Nikole Churchill was crowned Friday night during the annual pageant. She is a senior nursing major at Hampton University. Her mother is 100% Italian and her father is from Guam.

The vast majority of students at Hampton are black, so some worry Churchill won’t be able to represent the typical Hampton student.

“I think it will be challenging at first. Not just because she’s the first non black winner, but because she’s from the Virginia Beach campus,” said Parson. “Once that initial shock wears off, I do believe the students will come together and work with her.”

Churchill wrote a letter to President Obama in which she says her crowning has not been widely accepted on the HU campus due to her race. She invited the president to speak at the university on the topic of racial tolerance. – Reported by: Kristina Rohall

To:
President Barack Obama

October 11, 2009

Aloha Mr. Obama!

My name is Nikole Churchill, a senior nursing major at Hampton University. This past Friday October 9, 2009, I was honored to be crowned Miss Hampton University 2009-2010. It truly was the best night of my life! With that being said, I am sad to say that my crowning was not widely accepted and many negative comments regarding my win have been shared throughout my campus.

It would be much easier to say that possibly some were not accepting of the news because I wasn’t the most qualified contestant; however, the true reason for the disapproval was because of the color of my skin. I am not African American. Despite the unfortunate beliefs that some are saying I should not have won, I am desperately trying to focus on those who believe in me and support me and my goal to represent this beautiful, multicultural campus the very best way that I can. I would love your help!

I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent, but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making towards accepting diversity. People are even nicknaming me, “lil Obama” because of various reasons. This is truly an honor as well!

I am also from Hawaii (Wahiawa) and I am hoping that you can assist me in opening some closed minds and help share some aloha spirit throughout my campus. I feel as though you could relate to my situation, which is why I immediately wanted to contact you. I was interviewed last night at the HU vs. HU football game by news channel 13 and I mentioned how individuals such as you and myself are making changes in hopes people can stop placing so much focus on our skin color by letting that define what we can, cannot, should, and/or should not do. Dr. Harvey welcomed me last night to the family with open arms and I was beyond honored when he told me that he is behind me 100%. I am proud to represent Hampton University and I am so proud having you to represent our home, our country. Your support with my crowning as Miss Hampton University 2009-2010 would be graciously appreciated. Please reply, I will be looking forward to it!

-Nikole Churchill
Source: Congress.org

Statement from Miss Hampton University

Hampton, VA – I am honored to be the winner of the Miss Hampton University Pageant that was held on Friday, October 9, 2009. On Sunday, October 11, 2009 I posted a letter to President Obama saying that my win was not widely accepted on campus. I have now come to regret writing this letter and disappointing the very students that I now represent. I took the comments of a few and blew it out of proportion. In reality, all comments that have been directed towards me and the reception I received at the Hampton University versus Howard University football game on Saturday, October 10, 2009 were genuinely supportive. Today, I met with student leaders and other elected student officials and they were also supportive. Hampton University has always promoted diversity. In fact Hampton University pioneered American Indian education and has embraced diversity since its inception. I truly apologize to all students, faculty, staff and alumni. It was absolutely not my intention to bring negative attention to the University. I deeply apologize for any misunderstandings that this may have caused and I look forward to working with my fellow students to promote the Hampton University legacy.

Nikole Churchill
Miss Hampton University 2009-2010
Source Hamptonu.edu


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  • Angie

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    I think it’s fine that she won. She had enough support to be in the running and won the pageant, that’s great. I don’t necessarily think that a pageant win and winning the presidency can really be compared though. I respect the spirit of her letter but don’t believe it would be appropriate for the president to be involved at any level with what is basically a beauty pageant.

  • Nichelle A. Frazier

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    Hell yeah it’s racism!!! If we want other to stop focusing on the color of skin & focus on the content of our character, we must do the same!!! I understand that “we” want to have our “own” stuff, something that belongs to us for us, by us, but we can be so hypocritical!!! If we focus on the human being aspect of things we would be better off. If only “all” people would focus on this, the world would be a better place for it!! The crowning was for a Hampton Uni. “student” correct–which the young lady is. I’m sure the pageant was not for “black only” students. That brings to mind the “White Only” signs from the 60’s!!! Same damn thing!!! Let’s accept people for who they are as individuals and move the hell on!! If someone is racists, chalk them up as a damn idiot and “Keep It Movin!!” When there is unfairness in the world be it race, job disscrimination or whatever, let’s do something about it & teach the idiots a lesson. And example would be Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes from his “I have a Dream” speech: “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people…..have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”

    “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today!

    I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

    “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

    “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

    We have so forgotten this. If we stay separate, think separate, be separate, do separate we will continue to exist separately! What happened to this “symphony of brotherhood?” Coming together as “brothers & sisters?”

    We have to get back to this mentality. And this younger generation IS forgetting.

    Enough said.

  • Crystal

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    It was a long time coming, for all HBCUs. We(African Americans)cannot expect racial equality on our terms, only. If she is a tuition paying student, fair participation in HU activities should be granted. We are living in a transforming nation, congratulations to her!

  • Sis. K

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    Those who imagine the world is color blind will not care.. or see it as a plus for the erasure of “color” and those who are conscious will continue to care.. and will see it as a step backwards away from self reclamation.. the two will not see eye to eye..

  • Julienne

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    As a graduate of a HBCU (Howard Univ), I am extremely proud. Congratulations, Miss Hampton! Skin color is meaningless.. if she was admitted to the university ..she should have the access to the same achievements as African American students. I can’t believe the negative attention this is receiving. This is racism ..& it is pathetic.

  • dwayne

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    Awesome truly awesome. When Obama got elected my Father (whom grew up in the south and has felt the hand of racism directly) said to me–We as a nation must change our way of thinking for this to truly work. All peoples not just African Americans or whites–The President of American represents all colors of the rainbow. She was admitted to the school, she paid her tuition whether thru scholarship or out of pocket, she represents the population of the student body of the university, the people voted her the crown. She has the right as anyone else that attends that university to win and be judged with the honor associated with it. We talk about daily how some whites or other races has not fully accepted Obama, well it starts at home. We as a whole need to accept this and stop trippn, let’s for once get something right. True this is a road untraveled but someone needs to break out the map, so we as a whole do not get loss.

  • Sis. K

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    I’m reading that part of the hoopla is that she doesn’t live on campus and attends a satellite school.. also that it was “decided” that she would win before the pageant began.. If so this isn’t about fairness.. this would be akin to busing.. to make your school more attractive to yt.. If not, then a non black person is a huge slap in the face to those who seek out an HBCU because of its unique environment and focus.. honestly they should be given the chance to attend a school that fits their needs better … if the school is going in a separate direction..

  • HReid

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    It doesn’t surprise me, Morehouse had a white Valedictorian within the last few years, anything is possible. Just about every HBCU I have been to over the last 5 to 7 had at least a handful of white students so it’s not rare as say 20 or more yrs ago. Hampton U always making headlines, you know how we do.

  • Sister Toldja

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    I am disgusted, to say the least. Our Black colleges are one of the few spaces where Black people exist at the center, not the margin. This girl could “reign” in so many spaces and yet she had to have one of ours. What exactly is the point of an HBCU if we are going to see things like this eroding at our legacy of Black beauty and Black greatness? I know that Hampton is notorious for it’s assimilationist spirit, but this is low even for them. Especially if there is truth to the rumor she was selected BECAUSE of her race. This is a sad day for HBCUs.

  • Disturbed

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    I am truly disturbed by the information I read being an HU alumni. Especially when a letter to Obama was written; as if you can compare a pageant to the presidency. Second of all, why would you write a letter, it was as though she was using this as a way to attract publicity to herself. Racism? Yes. to the Black students who are more deserving because the reason why they chose her was because she is WHITE. THAT is black on black racism right there. Of course your winning is not going to be accepted on a BLACK campus. SHE is supposed to be the face of an HBCU and her being in EBONY magazine says what to young black girls? What statement is she trying to make? What are her real motives? How is she promoting a multi-cultural campus when 85% of the student body is Black. YEa. Whatever. Im not buying that. Hampton is full of it.

  • calijoy

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    If she won by the standards Hampton set forth to be in the contest, so be it. Is she the face of Hampton? Probably not, but if Hampton students and alumni see a problem, they need to address the rules of the pageant, e.g. on/off campus, main campus, etc. Truthfully, as more HBCUs become more integrated, this is bound to happen.

  • Thane Watkins

    Reply Reply October 12, 2009

    The fact that you are writing about this as though it is an issue shows that you are racist. She’s a Hampton student. Period. Her racial background should have no bearing on her being Miss Hampton. Shame on the authors of this story.

  • Calvin

    Reply Reply October 13, 2009

    Why is it okay for schools in the MEAC to have predominately non-white athletes on the tennis team, and golf team, many on the volleyball and softball team, but cannot have a non-white as their college queen? Does that mean that white schools should never have a non-white queen? If any school environment should be open to tolerenace, diversity and acceptance, it should be a HBCU school. We fought the fight against segregation and won, and now some want to start segregation all over again. If Churchill is a student at the real HU, regardless of the main campus or the Virginia Beach campus she should be entitled to all of the same benefits that every student has. As that famous King once said, “can we all just get along”.

  • Peaches219

    Reply Reply October 13, 2009

    It really upsets me that we as a race can be so hypocritical. We want to be accepted by all races but are not willing to do the same. When I attended HU there were other races attending and that was almost 20 years ago. So what if she is white. She is a student at HU and that is all that matters. She wrote that letter because she is feeling the same criticism that she feels Obama is getting. People don’t think he can represent and run this country because he is a black man. They aren’t taking the time to look at his qualifications and the fact that he is a citizen of this country just like they are. I’m so proud that Ms. Churchill is representing the real HU. Just pray on it young lady!

  • Paul Bennett

    Reply Reply October 13, 2009

    This is a bunch of BS. First of all, she was crowned Ms. Hampton. So obviously, a large segment of the Hampton campus supported her. Second of all, now she knows what it feels like to be African American and having to deal with grains of ignorance as it relates to race. Obama does not need to come to Hampton to speak about racial intolarance. It seems to me that by 1/Hampton allowing her to be a student at its campus and 2/She becoming Ms. Hampton, the fake “H.U.” has already demonstrated that there is nothing false about it when it comes to tolerance.

    ps…white folk screeming racism just makes donkey itch!!!!!

  • aka Tito

    Reply Reply October 13, 2009

    Hello All, I took notice to the Miss Hampton controversy because she wrote a PUBLISHED letter to the President of the United States complaining about racism at a HBCU after she broke color lines to be the first Caucasian winner. Not cool.

  • Sameolecee

    Reply Reply October 13, 2009

    I attended Hampton University and I don’t have a problem with her not being black. She met all the requirements of the pagent and she won, fair enough. (FYI she was not elected by the student body, Miss Hampton is a feeder pagent for Miss America and their judges decide the winner) My concern is that she does not actually attend Hampton University and she damaged its reputation. How can you represent a school you know nothing about? Any Hamptonian can tell you that there is a very specifc culture on campus. It does not relate to race as much as it does to traditions and pride in our institution. I am very bothered by the fact that she wrote a letter to the President (addressing him inappropriatley) that painted Hampton as a school full of racists. This was a poor PR decison. Hamptonians in my day would have known better. She embarassed the school on a NATIONAL level. This does not bode well for Hampton as a business. Any girl who wins the pagent is subject to some form of criticism. I truly believe that she would have been more accepted if she were immersed in the campus culture and the students at least knew her. I am disappointed in this series of events. I hope the recovery is smooth.

  • Louis Metevia

    Reply Reply October 14, 2009

    All I see is ignorance on the part of some African Americans that just can’t accept the change this world so significantly needs. WE all need to accept each other as individuals no matter what the color of our skin is, our religious beliefs or any other difference that we may have. There are some (NOT ALL) African Americans that are as racist as some hate groups that I care not to mention. I don’t know if she was picked or not because of her race to win and I don’t care. I believe she will be a Great Queen for the University. Tell me about her GPA and what she is doing to better the University and the surrounding communities. The individuals that speak about her not being good for the University I wonder if they even voted at all for a Miss Hampton University. And the writing to the President I don’t see anything wrong with it. I wish she would have talked to administrators first and tried to handle it on her own. I know the magnitude of the Queen of Hampton University cannot compare to the Presidency of the United States but both situations shows that racism in this country still exist on BOTH SOME AFRICAN AMERICANS AND SOME CAUCASIANS NOT ALL. AND I SAY THAT AGAIN NOT ALL. I am from the south, Louisiana to be exact. So I know what I’m talking about. Until we can except each other as HUMAN BEING (ALL OF US) African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, Oriental or WHAT EVER!!! Racism will find its ugly head in the middle of us all and WE WILL ALL suffer as HUMAN BEING…

    LOUIS METEVIA

  • LTS

    Reply Reply October 15, 2009

    WOW!!! I am shocked at some of the comments I’m reading concerning the recently crowned Miss Hampton. As a class of ’96 alumn, I think that it is a positive that the university actually crowned the winner based on the criteria they had established beforehand even if she is not black. Like someone pointed out earlier, if she was qualified to enter the pageant, then se is qualified to win.

    Furthermore, I don’t buy this crap that a white woman winning the Miss Hampton crown erodes the legacy of Black Beauty & Black Greatness as someone also claimed earlier. I sincerely hope that you give Black Beauty & Greatness much more credit than this. As far as I’m concerned the qualities that make us great do not hinge on the result of a campus pageant.

    Folks really need to get serious, this pageant can NEVER change the fact that my sistas are and will always be beautiful. It will also NEVER change the fact that Hampton is and will always be an HBCU.

    In this era, HBCU’s should not be used as an oasis to separate ourselves from the world around us. We have to be willing to accept all of the things that come with cultivating the diversity that we’ve been working toward in this country for so long.

  • Mr. Canty

    Reply Reply October 15, 2009

    I too am a Hampton Alum, attending 1991-1995. During my time at Hampton, I recognized and accepted that the face of “Our home by the sea” would change soon because of our diverse population and the attraction of the academics offered. We all have to embrace the fact that if we accept and adapt to change and diversity, we would progress substantially as a whole(meaning country and human race). I applaud Nikole Churchill for having the courage to be the New Face of “Our home by the sea.” My advice and suggestion to you Miss Hampton…. Let the pessimists be the fuel that powers your quest for change and let those who support and believe in you be your motivation to continue.

  • Robert

    Reply Reply October 15, 2009

    Hahaha…so much for Hampton being “the real HU”.

    This type of stuff would not fly on MY ALMA MATER.

    Hahaha….well, this will finally show what school is truly the real HU!

    20 years from now, freshman on Hampton’s campus will hear about how Hampton used to be an HBCU.

    Y’all corny. One!

  • Kathryn Wilson

    Reply Reply October 16, 2009

    I feel the winner is exotic enough, to have a non blue eyed non blond
    victory.
    Sadly, no one is talking about her platform. Such as 2008’s Queen addressed depression.

  • Digger

    Reply Reply October 19, 2009

    Nobody’s addressing her platform? Who cares about her platform? She looks too dumb to even have one. Thats whats up, this is who is repping Hampton, a dumb white trash trick. Hahahahaa…..

  • Hamza Mohammed

    Reply Reply October 22, 2009

    I didn’t meet her, but she passed me and my daughter at the HU-VA vs HU-DC game last week. She’s a polished yound lady, and any father would be proud to have a daughter with that much going on.
    Sometimes, people don’t realize when it’s time for fun and games, and when there is something serious to discuss.
    HBCUs are not just the door of education for US-born africans, but for many people from all over the world, and yet on our HBCU campus, many of our students appear to be bigotted. To think a person from a different racewould come to a HBCU because they are something less than accomplished, speaks volumes of your own-self loathing and lack of regard you have for your own HBCUs.
    I frankly think world vision that is offered by the different types of students who were born outside the continental US is an important part of your education. I had a non-african professor who wrote the Greek constituion, and another who was a Supreme Court Justice in S. Africa(during Apartheid) who chose to teach at a HBCU because of the chance to further open the eyes of HBCU students. In many respects, the hope of the world is in students from HBCUs.

  • Squeaks

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    I am alumni of Hampton Institute. I was there for the transition to University. Through the years I have seen many positive changes. Dr. Harvey has done a great job investing the millions of dollars contributed by alumni and other sources to ensure we do not have to travel the path of other HBCU’s to stay open. What I don’t understand is when did one of our traditions turn into a “feeder pageant” for a national beauty pageant? When and why did a decision made by the student body go to the selected few on a panel? THAT is the problem. These students are not racist. They merely showed their dismay in the selection of a person who does not represent them. The problem is NOT that she is white. The problem is she does not represent them. Perhaps there would come a day when a white person would have been selected by the student body. That person would be, as our previous queens have been, immersed and active in CAMPUS CULTURE. She would be able to speak to issues surrounding the campus and students who attend there. She attends a satellite and has no clue. How can she truly represent what we all hold sacred and dear if she has never experienced it? her trip to coronation was likely only the 4th or 5th time she’d ever BEEN on our beautiful campus. the fact that she is white is not the issue. The fact that we are selling our traditions to the highest bidder makes me sad.

  • Tiiz

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    Squeaks…very well put.

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