MILWAUKEE — The Juneteenth Day pageant has been a staple in the Milwaukee community for 29 years, and even a pandemic couldn't stop the crowning of a new Miss and Little Miss Juneteenth Day.
Ayanna Bennett, a student at Homestead High School, took home the title of Miss Juneteenth Day in 2020.
"It's a cool opportunity to have that name and to wear it with pride," Bennett said.
Avana Kelly, a student at St. Marcus Middle School, won the Little Miss 2020 competition.
"When I first got the news that I won, I was very happy!" Kelly said.
Now they're also using their voices to share the importance of Juneteenth Day.
"Being able to celebrate the fact that we get to have the opportunities that we do right now as African-Americans in this country. I truly believe my voice as a young, Black woman matters," Bennett said.
And Kelly said the day is important "for other African-American children like me to know where they come from, their heritage and know what their freedom means."
They hope others will consider joining this year's pageant.
"We do need more young people, more young voices speaking positively and not only that, but speaking truth," Bennett said.
Both girls are multi-talented and ambitious about current projects and their future.
Bennett said she's interested in graphic design and is also an entrepreneur.
"I have my own clothing company, I'm also a designer behind my mother's company," Bennet said.
Kelly hopes to continue to use her voice to make a change and said she wants to become a writer and a politician.
The Juneteenth Day Pageant has given out more than $80,000 in scholarships to dozens of girls over the years.
Registration for this year is open until May 23.