‘Miss Juneteenth’ comes from Channing Godfrey Peoples, and is her debut feature movie. The premise follows a mother, Turquoise, who works several jobs to support her daughter, Kai. The mother is a former Miss Juneteenth winner but her life doesn’t turn out the way she wanted. However, she hopes that her daughter might have the best life possible after winning the Miss Juneteenth pageant and getting a scholarship to a historically black college.
Channing’s movie touches on several themes like motherhood, women in society, community, and African American citizens’ struggles to own property. Since she tells the stories from her perspective, you might be curious if there are any real-life inspirations behind ‘Miss Juneteenth.’
What is Miss Juneteenth?
The Miss Juneteenth pageant is a real thing and Peoples grew up attending Miss Juneteenths that took place in Fort Worth, although she didn’t win any. Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, Peoples said, “One of the things that has always been super special to me about Juneteenth every year is the Miss Juneteenth pageant. I got to see young African American women who have all this hope and promise. For me as a kid, that’s what I could imagine being. Hopeful. That was a defining moment for me.”
Historically, Juneteenth recognizes the day that Texas slaves learned they were free. It came on June 19, 1865, after Union soldiers landed in Galveston, delivering the news, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Peoples continued, saying, “There is a beauty in the way we commemorate and remember our ancestors by celebrating Juneteenth. The centerpiece of it is the Miss Juneteenth pageant, created to acknowledge young African American women who are the descendants of slaves.”
The Juneteenth pageants celebrate this day by allowing young African American women to compete for college scholarships. It is more than just a beauty contest. It is a beacon of hope for the contestants and their families. Peoples tries to capture this sentiment in her movie.
Is Miss Juneteenth Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Miss Juneteenth’ is not based on a true story per se, but it is largely based on Peoples’ experiences of growing up in the Lone Star State and what the Juneteenth event means for her. The director spoke of her inspiration saying that she’s always been nostalgic about the pageant and feels that the movie has been with her for her entire life.
She states that she’s always attended the Juneteenth events and the pageant has always been the chief attraction. Since her childhood experiences and perceptions about the event have been at the back of her mind for so long, she decided to make her first feature film on the Miss Juneteenth Pageant. Thus, the story might be fictional, but it is portrayed in a real-life manner and is based on historic facts as well as intensely personal experiences of the director.
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