Miss Sepia

Date
c. 1950s
Medium
Photography
Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA

Established in 1945 in Philadelphia by Grayce Clementine Nottage and her sister Ruth, the Miss Sepia beauty pageant was open to single black girls between the ages of 17 and 24 who were high school seniors or graduates. (Beauty pageants were segregated at the time.) The first winner was Delores Anita Fairfax, the daughter of Frankie Fairfax, bandleader, musician, songwriter, and organizer of Philadelphia’s Protective Union Local 274, a charter of the American Federation of Musicians for black musicians.

Mosley’s photographs of the contest winners were reproduced in Jet magazine as well as in local and East Coast newspapers, including the Washington Afro-American.

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