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The first black woman crowned Miss Maine, Carolyn Brady, decided to spend all of February 2021 shopping at black-owned stores — in honor of Black History Month. Brady was originally crowned in 2019. She is also the first Miss Maine to serve for two years.
She stated that her goal is to lessen the economic inequality many people of color face. Brady said, “I have committed to buying black for the entire month of February.” It is already 22 days into Black History Month and she is still going strong in her goal.
I think it just shows how far we’ve come in our state as New Englanders and as far as racial progress
One of those businesses that she has frequented is Rwanda Bean which is located in Portland Maine. The owner of the store, Danielle Graffius, said that the moment that you meet Brady you gain “an instant friend and supporter.”
According to Graffius, Rwanda Bean was started roughly eight years ago. Back when Mike Mwenedata moved to Maine from Rwanda. She further stated that the company gives back roughly “50% of all coffee proceeds… directly back to the farmers and their families.”
These proceeds also include education programs for children and health insurance for the farmers. Brady has stated that she can relate to people who are immigrant American. This is due to the fact that her grandparents are originally from the Caribbean.
As an immigrant American, I think we are really focused on how commerce and how our progress relates to future generations as well as our past.
Brady graduated from Bowdoin College which is located in Brunswick, Maine. She served as Maine’s COVID-19 Recovery AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America). In this program, she spent a year assembling and dissecting pertinent information to recovery efforts of K-12 schools — and higher education institutions — due to the pandemic.
Starting at the age of five, she studied the violin. She used her talents to participate in the Bowdoin College Orchestra and a variety of Bowdoin Quartets and Trios. Brady also was a student at the Philadelphia International Music Festival for five years. There she studied with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Brady’s Social Impact Initiative is entitled “Immigration Builds Our Nation.” This initiative seeks to highlight the contributions that immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers make to the United States. According to the Miss American website, Brady — and others like her — wish to encourage a welcoming and accepting environment “for our new neighbors.”
The United States was built by immigrants. This country is strong due to its diversity. Even though some people seem to have forgotten this fact over the years.
The website further states that Brady feels truly blessed and honored to be crowned Miss Maine. She serves is considered “a trailblazer in more ways than one.” Her plan is to use this time to continue to create plenty of opportunities for residents of our state — most specifically BIPOC Mainers, students of all ages, and young women.
Brady fully plans on trying to go to black-owned businesses throughout the state of Maine. She is planning on closing out Black History Month next week in Camden.
Written by Sheena Robertson
News Center Maine: First woman of color crowned Miss Maine supporting black-owned businesses during Black History Month; by Jackie Mundry
Miss America: Carolyn Brady
Featured Image Courtesy of etee’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License