Quinlaine Cisco, 18, was crowned Miss Juneteenth 2013 on Thursday at the sixth annual pageant sponsored by the Killeen Branch of the NAACP.

The pageant marked the beginning of Killeen’s 24th annual Juneteenth celebration, which commemorates the anniversary of June 19, 1865, the day Texas discovered slavery was abolished.

Cisco competed against four Killeen-area contestants at the Lions Club Park Senior Center in Killeen. With the title, she received a one-year NAACP membership and a stipend.

“To me, this means being a role model to young girls and letting them know that the image they see on TV is not how you have to carry yourself,” Cisco said.

The young women were judged on their poise, charm, talent and intellect. Runners-up were Talia Tunstill, 17, Nakeema Shaw, 18, Iesha Jenkins, 18, and Erin Roberts, 18, who was named Miss Congeniality.

Gladys Peterson, pageant coordinator, said the pageant is important to help remember the past and to celebrate the youth who represent our future.

“I get an opportunity to work with the young ladies and they inspire me because I love teaching them what Juneteenth is all about and letting them share in the celebration,” she said. “And they get to be a beauty queen for the day, which helps build their self-esteem for success in the future.”

Surena Ellis, former Miss Juneteenth, reflected on her reign.

“I love what this represents and to do that in such a positive way really meant a lot to me,” she said. “I was really honored to be crowned.”

TaNeika Moultrie, president of the Killeen Branch NAACP, recognized the contestants for their commitment to the pageant.

“It takes a lot of courage to get in front of people and perform,” she said. “Congratulations to each and every one of them for making that first step in this journey called life.”

Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin and Councilman Steve Harris also attended the pageant, which Corbin described as “a great event to kick off this important weekend.”

Juneteenth, a three-day event, is not exclusively for the African-American community, said Roosevelt Huggins, one of the founders of Killeen’s Juneteenth program.

“We want to make sure we are touching the lives of all ethnic groups, rather than just one,” he said. “It’s the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and that means everyone because everyone is of color.”

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