Sharen Sierra King. Photo by Pete Coleman of Perfect Exposure Photography

By Sharen Sierra King

Herald Contributor

Photos by Pete Coleman of Perfect Exposure Photography

Spring is here and the 43rd Miss Black Cincinnati and 33rd Miss Black Teen Cincinnati pageants will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2023. The pageant’s theme is ‘The Beauty Within’ both Miss Black Cincinnati and Miss Black Teen Cincinnati pageants will take place simultaneously at 2:00 pm (doors open at 1:00 pm) at Corinthian Baptist Church, 1920 Tennessee Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237. Tickets are available online at the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company website (see below).

I am humbled to have a front-row view of how RLH Pageants Unlimited, now under the umbrella of Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, has touched the lives of more than 1000 of the tri-state’s African American teens and young adult women ages 13 to 24. It is not unusual to hear former Alumnae speak about the tools and lessons learned while participating in either MBC or MBTC. which they continue to utilize in both their personal and career..

‘Train up a child in the way he/she should go; even when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it.’ Proverbs 22:6 is an often-quoted scripture when discussing raising a productive child into adulthood. As a public speaker, I often reference the ‘Five Stages of Life’ based on the following descriptive nouns: Dreamer, Explorer, Builder, Mentor, and Giver

I believe life-changing experiences can happen at any age given the opportunity and tools to dream a dream, formulate and execute the plan while setting goals. Or to quote former First Lady Michele Obama. ‘Every girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her.’ The young women competing for MBC or MBTC  crown and title are encouraged to embrace the five nouns from their first day of orientation and to make them apart of their life’s mantra.

Miss Black Cincinnati Contestants

The three month preparation for the pageant includes weekly practice in the areas of voice & dictation, personal interview, poise & charm (walk), group dance, and talent. They will be judged in the following areas of Talent – Personal Interview with Judges – Evening Gown – Impromptu Projection Question.

Everyone connected to the process is committed to the mission set forth by the Founder, Emeritus Robert L Humphries, carried forward by Executive Producer and Director Donald Sherman. The goal is to help encourage young women to walk with their heads held high and have respect for themselves in all phases throughout their life.

As a former contestant, chaperone, volunteer, and alumnae president, a question I often hear ‘Why is there a need for a pageant, specifically for African American youth and young women?’ My reply, ‘Why should we not.’

I in turn ask leadership, ‘Why a beauty pageant? ‘Our objective in producing a pageant of this status is to work with young ladies and showcase their poise, the beauty within, intellect, and talent. Additionally, it helps encourage young women to walk with their heads held high and have respect for themselves in all phases throughout their life,’  Robert L Humphries. ‘A significant component of the pageant is to also encourage community involvement and volunteerism. For these reasons, members of RLH Alumnae are working towards establishing an organization of connectivity and resources for all Alumnae, past, present, and for those yet to come,’ Donald Sherman.

Join us in thanking outgoing 2022 Miss Black Cincinnati Olivia Riggs, who enjoys poetry, and baking and is an active member of Operation Wakanda, a youth ministry. A University of Cincinnati graduating senior, Olivia will attend law school the next step on her journey to becoming a Judge. and founding a non-profit youth organization. 2022 Miss Black Teen Cincinnati, Joi Burton, a current student at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, is active within her school and community, track and field, writing, reading, and is a spoken word speaker. Joi is laying the groundwork for increasing her territory, her goals include attaining a full scholarship to the college of her choice creating a fashion brand and a career as a public speaker. Both Olivia and Joi plan to use their voice and gifts for Social Justice

All involved with the pageant will feel the loss of Dr. Odell Moreno Owens, a lifetime legacy supporter who will forever be in the everyone’s heart and memory for his commitment and selflessness through his deeds locally and globally. Sending continued prayers and condolences to his wife, Mrs. Marchelle Owens, and children, Christopher, Justin, and Morgan Owens.

Miss Black Teen Cincinnati Contestants

How does the pageant continue to do the work within the tri-state? With the support of the community, sponsors, faith leaders, staff, family and friends of the pageant and leadership.

The host of the 2023 pageants is Dr. Shelly J Hamler, P. Ann Everson Price, Courtis Fuller, and Jan Michele Lemon-Kearney.

With Gratitude: *Presenting Sponsor: Marchelle Hall-Owens *Center for Closing The Health Gap *Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy *African American Chamber of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky * Midwest Black Family Reunion & I Hear Music In The Air *SO-ACT *Gardenia Roper *Antonio & Cheryl Lackey *Pete Coleman Photography Studios *HRA Howard, Reynolds & Associates *Media Sponsor: The Cincinnati Herald.

In addition to our sponsors, the pageant could not take place without the volunteer training staff comprised of former alumnae Angela Grayson – Alexander, Bridgett Schooler Davis, Lakeisa Ealy, ShaRhonda Moore, Sharen Sierra King along with talent coordinators Deborah Stewart, Tara Hammonds, Avery Hammonds, Elocution and Diction Coach, Dr. Cleaster Mims, and support staff Steven Hunter—many thanks to the front and back of the house volunteers, patrons, family, and friends of the contestants.

Are you an Alumnae or do you know an Alumnae? Call the number below and remember. ‘We Are Better Together’ For tickets, to become a sponsor, to learn more, or sign up for the 2024 pageants, call 513-241-6060 or

Contact or Follow Sharen Sierra across digital platforms via

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *