Miss America should have a voice

The recent controversy between North Dakota’s own Miss America, Cara Mund, and the Miss America Organization can’t help but lead one to wonder if the end of an era is approaching and that even a pageant of this scale and legacy might disappear from our culture.

In a letter addressed to former Miss Americas last week, Mund wrote that she has been bullied, manipulated and silenced by the pageant’s current top leadership, headed by Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper. Both have denied bullying Mund and say they support her.

However, that “support” only went so far. Carlson has struck back against the reigning Miss America, saying Cara Mund’s allegations that Carlson and others bullied her have led to a loss of $75,000 in scholarship money for this year’s contestants. In a Twitter post late Sunday night whose authenticity was verified by the Miss America Organization, Carlson wrote that she was “surprised and saddened beyond words” by Mund’s letter.

As of now, the Miss American Organization has not stated how or why the controversy has cost scholarship money and many have come out in support of Mund.

Mund has always conducted herself in public with dynamic class and dignity. She has been a model Miss America and a delightful ambassador for the organization – and for North Dakota. That leaves one to wonder what the issue has been.

Pageants are changing. Already, this year’s competition will not include swimsuits and there have been several years of controversy at the top of the organization. Perhaps the era of the pageant is over. That would be a shame because of the scholarship component and the good that Miss Americas have done with their fame.

At least if the pageant era is coming to a close, Mund will have been an example of grace, good will – and courage.

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