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It’s that time again. The Miss Black Illinois USA 2015 Pageant is this Saturday.

Tina DeNard, executive director, encourages everyone to come support the contestants.

“This pageant celebrates the young women who come from our community and it is important that we empower our own women,” DeNard said.

The annual competition is happening at 3 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. Tickets prices start at $25 and can be purchased online http://www.MissBlackIL2015.eventbrite.com. The event will be hosted by radio personality Dana Divine and Chicago writer/producer Richard Gallion. There will also be a performance by Nola Ade.

There are 16 women between the ages of 18 and 27 competing for the chance to represent Illinois in the national competition. The winner will receive a $5,000 prize package, which includes scholarship funding, a photo shoot, a roundtrip plane ticket and hotel accommodations to Miss Black USA.

There’s a reason the pageant is called a “scholarship” pageant and not a “beauty” pageant. The young women don’t focus on just their image, but instead they compete in three categories: the interview, personal fitness and evening gown.

DeNard said the pageant equips the women with the tools they need to succeed in life. She has been in her role for two years and enjoys it. The best part is meeting young women from across the city.

“They have been a real inspiration for me and they keep me young and hopeful,” DeNard said, who is a mother.

She said that even though some might not see the need for a Black pageant, she believes that it is still needed.

“I think that it is extremely important and I can’t express that enough,” she said.

“As a young girl, when you go to a pageant and see someone who looks like you, it does something,” DeNard said.

It is good for Black women to have role models from all walks of life, she added, especially another Black woman.

People can vote for their favorite contestant to receive the 2015 People’s Choice Award. Voting takes places online by clicking on her photo and each vote is $1. There is no limit on the number of times you can cast a vote. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 24.

“You want to come out to celebrate these young women who are doing positive things because there are so many negative things happening in Chicago, we seldom get to celebrate the positive,” DeNard said.

For more information visit the website or call 877-478-0004.

Contestants for Miss Black Illinois USA 2015 Compete at the DuSable on Saturday was originally published on chicagodefender.com

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