By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

Michele' Crowder, 18, presided over the Killeen Branch NAACP's annual Juneteenth parade Friday night as Miss Juneteenth 2011.

The recent Shoemaker High School graduate beat out five others for the title during a pageant Thursday night at Fort Hood.

Crowder modeled business and evening wear and answered questions from a panel of community leaders.

She won them over with her response to whether she'd rather have beauty, riches or intelligence, she said Friday.

Beauty can fade, she said, and riches can go as easily as they come, but "when you know something, no one can ever take that away from you." Crowder also impressed the crowd during the talent portion of the pageant, when she sang "I'm Here" from the musical, "The Color Purple."

The song was perfect for the occasion, she said, because it's a song about loving oneself in the face of adversity.

June 19 or Juneteenth is still important, Crowder said, despite society's advancement since June 19, 1865, the date of Texas slaves' effective emancipation - more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln freed slaves in rebel states by signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

"History can repeat itself," she said, "maybe not exactly slavery but laws and legislation."

Juneteenth also holds spiritual significance for Crowder, a devout Christian and member of Greater Vision Community Church in Killeen.

"It's a (lesson) that you have to keep the faith," she said. "No matter what happens, God will always bring you through."

Crowder, who hopes to become a music teacher, will attend Texas Lutheran University in the fall.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at or (254) 501-7559.

Pageant competitors

Second place: Alana Rice of Killeen

Third place: Shanelia Williams of Killeen

Fourth place: Chanel Davenport of Harker Heights

Fifth place: Cherisse Delgado of Harker Heights

Sixth place: Traecia Nichols of Killeen

If you go

The Killeen Branch NAACP's 22nd annual Juneteenth celebration continues today.

A Juneteenth worship service is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Killeen Community Center. Bishop Darryl Shaw of Rivers of Living Waters Church is the speaker.

A picnic will follow at 12:45 p.m., with food, games, pony rides and entertainment. The celebration ends at 3 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call (254) 291-0618 or (254) 634-3047.

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