Hardnett wins Miss Black Rocket City crown

Published 9:38 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Jemison High School alumnus Zyon Hardnett took the top spot and was crowned Miss Black Rocket City on June 15. Held in Madison, the pageant gives young black girls a chance to put themselves out there in a pageant and take in the unique experience that each one offers.

Hardnett, a rising senior at Alabama A&M University, was awarded a $1,500 scholarship for winning the pageant which she plans to put towards her studies in biology and goals to be a registered travel nurse.

“When they named me, I was like ‘Oh my gosh,’ and I was so nervous because I did not know,” Hardnett said.

The Miss Black Rocket City Pageant had three workshops before the actual pageant took place that helped newcomers learn how to walk properly, met the pageant staff, met with the pageant human resources to prepare for the interview portion and went through a full run through of the show from start to finish. Hardnett said the workshops were very beneficial because it gave girls who had never done pageants a chance to settle in and get a feel of how things work before the big show.

Hardnett herself is not a newcomer, participating in pageants since she was in fifth grade including ones at JHS and the National American Miss Alabama Pageant. She was crowned Miss Heart of Dixie at JHS in 2020, and captured a first and third runners-up spots in two separate state NAM pageants, so experience was on her side.

The Miss Black Rocket City Pageant had scenes like personality, fitness and the platform that gave the judges a sense of each participant’s reasoning for doing the pageant. Each participant brought a platform that they felt compelled to speak up about and spread awareness on. Hardnett chose OASIS — Overcoming Anxiety and Stress in School, which focuses on providing resources and support for students struggling with mental health challenges.

“Through OASIS, I aim to create a safe space for students to discuss their mental health, access helpful resources and learn strategies for managing stress and anxiety,” Hardnett said. “I believe that addressing mental health is crucial for academic success and overall well-being.”

Currently in college, Hardnett understands firsthand how hard balancing things like school work, social life and relationships can be. She related to OASIS a lot having her own battles with anxiety that she has on occasions. Hardnett does affirmations, videos and workshops through the program that help her calm down, put things into perspective and push the stress away.

“A lot of people struggle with mental health, and a lot of people do not like to talk about it, especially when it comes to school and how to balance,” Hardnett said. “I feel like if you can tell your story, and I tell my story and we can relate, then other people would be happy to speak up. OASIS is a good platform because I can tell them what it is and why I am using it, and also it has helped me.”

The empowerment the Miss Black Rocket City Pageant gives to young black girls was another thing Hardnett enjoyed about it. The pageant empowered the participants to be themselves and look, style and dress any type of way they wanted to for it.

“I feel like a lot of black girls like me feel like we have to wear our hair a certain way to be in a pageant or dress a certain way,” Hardnett said. “There were girls with braids, and they may always feel like they need to have their hair flat ironed (to participate), but no. Just be yourself because I feel like if you are yourself that is what young girls want to see so they can join something too. Some girls do not have hair, some girls do not have the nice clothes to do something like that, and this pageant does an amazing job because it was welcoming and a home.”

Hardnett’s main goal in doing the pageant was to tell her story, and she hopes to inspire other young girls to participate in all kinds of pageants and jump into them with an open mind, but most importantly, while still being themselves.