Janelle Commissiong: The First Black Miss Universe
Janelle Commissiong (born 1953) was born in Trinidad and Tobago. Commissiong migrated to the United States at the age of 13, and returned to Trinidad and Tobago ten years later. After winning the Miss Trinidad and Tobago title, she went on to be crowned Miss Universe 1977 in Santo Domingo,Dominican Republic.
In Trinidad and Tobago, they even have stamps in her honor.
In New York City, she studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but returned to Port of Spain in 1976. The following year, Commissiong had been selected to represent the Island at the 1977 Miss Universe competition in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
She was elected Miss Photogenic four days before the final, becoming the second black woman to win the award in Miss Universe history. On July 16, in the National Theater of Santo Domingo, Commissiong was crowned Miss Universe, attracting international attention as the first black winner in the chronology of Miss Universe.
During her reign, she was an advocate for black rights and world peace. Commissiong was awarded the Trinity Cross, the country’s highest award, in 1977.