Jazz Singer Crowned at American Classic Pageant

Mary Wells | 7/30/2009, 5:55 a.m.

Cheers and applause filled the historic Lincoln Theater in Northwest on Sat., July 18, as a group of women vied for a coveted title and the chance to represent the District in beauty pageants.

About 400 supporters, friends and family members cheered-on eight seniors during the Ninth Annual American Classic Woman of the Year Pageant.
€Words cannot explain the way I feel about the contestants. I€m so happy about the ladies. They were so excited and you could see the joy in their faces,€ Letha M. Blount, founding director of the District€s chapter of the American Classic Woman of the Year Pageant, said. €Being on the stage at the Lincoln Theater was an honor and the ladies were absolutely beautiful. The crowd just loved them.€

Blount, 79, established the D.C. Chapter in 2001. She said she staged the first American Classic Woman of the Year pageant at Shaw Junior High School in Northwest in 2004.

The contestants, who ranged in ages from 60 to 85, were judged by a panel of five men and women in categories that included inner beauty, talent and the evening gown competition. The judges also conducted individual interviews beforehand with each contestant to determine their conversational ability and level of charm. Judges also weighed-in on each contestant€s personality to ascertain who would best represent the District in future competitions.

During the 2 1/2 hour event, contestants had an opportunity to showcase other unique talents.

Winston Chaney, a local radio personality, served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Former American Classic queens presented the contestants with bouquets of purple and white roses.

Chaney and Blount announced Rose J. Bullock as this year€s American Classic Woman of the Year. In keeping with the long standing tradition of beauty pageants, Ms. American Classic 2008, Edith G. Williams, 77, crowned the new Ms. American Classic 2009.

Bullock, 61, serenades audiences with jazz standards at venues throughout the District at night. During the day, she works as a receptionist at Quadel Consulting Corporation in Northwest. In her remarks, after her coronation, Bullock said she wants to be remembered as a person who makes others smile when times are tough. The Henderson, N.C. native also added that she would like to see more emphasis placed on preserving the planet.

Rose J. Bullock waves to the crowd after being declared the winner of the Ninth Annual American Classic Woman of the Year Pageant on Sat., July 18 at the historic Lincoln Theater in Northwest. Photo by Victor Holt
€I think we should also concentrate more on cleaning up the planet by teaching our children to pick up litter, Bullock said. €The planet will be left to our children, and they will reap the benefits of a clean earth, of clean water and of clean air. We need a clean environment in general.€

Bullock€s mother, Louise Nelson, 80, had traveled from Nashville, Tenn., to see her daughter compete in her first beauty pageant.

But, Blount said the pageant is not only about beauty and grace; it also focuses on scholastic achievement. The pageant awards scholarships each year to District youth. This year, Kristal Brown, a pre-engineering graduate who attended Dunbar High School in Northwest and LaTia Best, also a Dunbar graduate, were presented with $250 scholarships during the ceremony. Both Best and Brown plan to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., in the fall.

Blount, who won the title of Ms. American Classic of Washington, D.C. in 2001, represented the District at the National American Classic Woman of the Year Pageant in Charleston, S.C., in 2000. After winning the title in 2001, she was named director of the District€s chapter.

The 85-year-old, first runner-up, known as €Faith,€ received a trophy and $250 for her participation. Second runner-up, 62-year-old Wanda Lofton, volunteers at B.O.S.S., a youth leadership training program in the District and retired from Amtrak after 35 years as a secretary and computer operator. Like Faith, she also received a trophy and a check.