Pageant beauty shines in spotlight
Miss Black Clarksville aspires to stardom
3:34 PM, Mar. 15, 2012
Larsa Summerville, 18, recently won the 8th Miss Black Clarksville Scholarship Pageant and will enter the University of Alabama in Huntsville this fall. / THE LEAF-CHRONICLE/Karen Parr-Moody
Larsa Summerville being crowned winner of the 8th Miss Black Clarksville Scholarship Pageant. / John Davis
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — After beating seven other contestants in the 8th Miss Black Clarksville Scholarship Pageant, Larsa Summerville, 18, now hopes to rise into a glamorous position in the modeling or television business.
Walking along the streets in downtown Clarksville last week, clad in a crown and pink sheath dress and toting her winning trophy, Summerville cut a commanding figure. She towered over passersby at a whopping five feet, 10 inches. This height was pushed over the 6-foot marker with the help of shiny beige platform heels. One could imagine that she might one day glide down the catwalks of New York, Paris and Milan.
Later, when she sat down to chat, Summerville possessed none of the shyness of some girls her age. The Clarksville High senior was direct, with no lack of confidence when detailing her hopes and dreams for the future. These include attending the University of Alabama in Huntsville this fall, then transferring to that university’s main campus in Tuscaloosa after finishing her core courses.
Despite her confidence in general, Summerville claims she had no idea she would win the trophy on Feb. 25 at the Miss Black Clarksville Scholarship Pageant, which was founded by Carol Berry to increase the number of minority scholarships in the community.
“I thought I was going to get fifth or sixth place,” she said. “I did not think I was going to win at all, because all of the other girls were so good.”
When she did win, Summerville burst into tears, following in the stilettos of a long line of beauty contestant winners before her, with a few exceptions. The first black woman to be crowned Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was a cool customer. She let one small tear trickle down before erupting into a wide smile.
The year was 1983 and Williams became more than the 56th Miss America; she became a new face in a world of American beauty that historically excluded blacks. Summerville wasn’t even born then. But she understands the complicated nature of black beauty firsthand, both in how it is perceived by the outsider and possessor alike.