Kára McCullough made Miss USA history last night with a back-to-back win for the District of Columbia.
The 2016 queen, Deshauna Barber, tearfully passed down the crown to her District of Columbia sister as the two embraced over the emotional victory last night.
Though the moment was beautiful, there’s SO much more to this year’s Miss USA story than frilly dresses, diamond-encrusted crowns and sappy wishes for “world peace.”
Just before the winner was announced, Deshauna opened up about her sweet mama who couldn’t be there for the Mother’s Day event. In a taped segment, the reigning queen shared that her mom, Cordelia Barber, passed away briefly after she won the Miss USA pageant last year.
In her honor, the American beauty said that she’d be sporting an afro on stage, a style reminiscent of her mother’s own hair.
She took her shimmery sleek mane back to her roots in tribute to her mom, and was it ever STUNNING.
— Miss USA (@MissUSA) May 15, 2017
Deshauna also got honest about her own “dramatically emotional” crowning last year, admitting that the reason behind her tears went so much deeper than vying for a coveted title.
“Now that my mother has passed on I can be honest about my crowning moment,” she wrote on Instagram. “I have lied to a lot of people… Telling interviewers that I was so dramatically emotional because I worked so hard to be on that stage. But in reality all 52 contestants worked hard to be on that stage so who am I to cry for that reason?”
“The truth is, I was emotional because my mom was in her home fighting for her life and there was nothing I could do to help her,” Deshauna continued. “I told myself that the least thing I could do for my mother was to make her proud by bringing the Miss USA crown home to our family. I cried because I was shocked that I accomplished that goal. I knew she was screaming with joy and probably felt the happiest she will ever feel during her lifetime.”
Deshauna was beyond grateful and humbled that God granted her mother that once-in-a-lifetime moment just before she died, adding that it made all the criticism she endured worth it:
“I felt blessed that God allowed me to give her that moment of happiness knowing she would not live much longer. I was so thankful and humble for that. I received a lot of slack for using the ‘Military Card’ during on stage question and was constantly called names like Tar, Monkey, Skeleton and the N-word on social media…but I didn’t care. All that mattered to me was my mother and quite frankly she is still all that matters to me. 🙌🏾 Long story short, you never know what someone is going through so maybe we should lead our lives with kindness, it will get you much further than HATE.”❤️