Caressa Cameron-Jackson, winner of 2010’s national Miss America pageant, publicly called for the resignation of the pageant’s leadership on Monday.
“I feel as though all of the leadership is complicit in this,” Cameron-Jackson told Paula Faris on Good Morning America, “and in order for us to move forward and to actually heal, we need to do the right thing right now, so that we can move forward and focus on who’s gonna be crowned Miss America on September 9.”
When asked about the potentially inclement timing of upheaval, Cameron-Jackson said that “it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.”
She then clarified:
And let’s be clear: just because we are asking for our chair and our CEO to step down does not mean that Miss America pageant will not happen, and I think it will send a clear message not only to our new Miss America but to the public that we are willing to do the right thing so that Miss America who is crowned on September 9 will not have to go through what Cara has gone through.
All of this is in response to recent trouble within the organization. Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and her colleagues were accused in a letter by reigning Miss America Cara Mund of having “systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis.”
Carlson denies the allegations, saying she is “surprised and saddened beyond words.” In a lengthy response posted to Twitter which was directed at Mund, Carlson continued:
I have never bullied or silenced you. We’ve acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one.
Actions have consequences. Friday, as an organization, we learned that $75,000 in scholarships which would have been the first scholarship increase in years is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter.
The impact won’t stop there. We are already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization, and I am so concerned that it will dilute the experience for the next woman selected to wear the crown.
There is no indication what actions, if any, the pageant or its board will take in response.