How a 1968 Miss America protest propelled the women’s movement into national spotlight

By Karina Bland, USA Today Network, on Oct. 16, 2018

On Sept. 7, 1968, a group of women, maybe 200 in all, from across the country, converged on Atlantic City in New Jersey to protest the 42nd Miss America pageant.

They marched along the boardwalk outside Convention Hall carrying signs that read, “All Women Are Beautiful,” and “If you want meat, go to the butcher,” railing against the pageant as sexist because, in their view, women were judged mostly on looks, with a smidgen of attention paid to talent.

But there was more to it than that. The protesters, organized by the New York Radical Women, didn’t only want to end the annual beauty contest.

They called out the pageant for its commercialism, for supporting the Vietnam War by sending winners to entertain the troops, and for racism because it had not yet crowned a black Miss America. (As it happened, the first Miss Black America was crowned at a separate pageant, down the street, that same night.)

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