By Phyllis Coley
Special to the New Journal and Guide
DeMia (Mia) Taylor of Gadsden, Ala., was crowned National Miss Juneteenth 2024 on October 21. Finalists from the Midwest, West, and South traveled to New Orleans for the National Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Program competition. Over the next year, Mia will serve as the Youth Ambassador for Juneteenth nationwide and worldwide.
The program is endorsed by the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), the principal advocators for the Juneteenth National Independence Day legislation and the organization responsible for Juneteenth holiday observances in 46 states and the District of Columbia.
DeMia (Mia) Taylor, 18, maintains a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) at Gadsden City High School. Upon graduation in May 2024, Mia plans to attend a college with a strong law program. Her goal is to become a contract lawyer and open her own hair business. She is the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Dyarrl Taylor and the granddaughter of renowned gospel artist Rev. Hersey Taylor Sr., Pastor of Greater Calvary Baptist Church in Gadsden for over 30 years.
“My aspiration as the reigning National Miss Juneteenth 2024 is strongly motivated by being able to give light to others. It also consists of showing others that anything is possible as long as you strive towards it. I live by a motto: ‘We love each other because God loved us first.’ My purpose is powered through the grace of God and being able to educate others about the importance and history of Juneteenth,” Mia exclaimed.
Samantha Neyland Trumbo served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Pagaent. After serving as the first Black woman to represent Hawaii at Miss Teen USA, Samantha moved to Los Angeles, where she became a working actress and model. With over 25 commercials, multiple national and international print campaigns, and acting work under her belt, Samantha returned to Hawaii to compete for Miss Hawaii USA. At the 2020 pageant, Samantha once again became the first Black woman to win the coveted title.
Prior to placing in the Top 10 at Miss USA, Samantha launched Hawaii for Juneteenth, a nonprofit coalition responsible for passing legislation that made Juneteenth an official day of observance in the State of Hawaii.
Starr Fisher is the Director of the National Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Program. Contestants for the crown are knowledgeable in the history of Juneteenth with the ability to discuss the national freedom documents: The Emancipation Proclamation, General Order #3, and the 13th Amendment’s ratification, which solidified freedom after June 19, 1865. NJOF advocated for more than 25 years for the passage of the National Juneteenth Independence Day legislation, which was signed in 2021, making it only the 12th Federal holiday in the country.