In the 34-year-history of the Miss Teen Illinois USA pageant, Sydni Dion Bennett is the first young Black woman to win the competition.
Bennett, 16, a dance coach at the Perfection Dance Artistry and Company, was shocked when she won took home the pageant title from the early September competition.
“When they said my name, I was like, ‘Whoa! It’s me!’ I wasn’t expecting it, honestly. My reaction video isn’t that good because I didn’t know what to do. It set in a couple days after.”
Bennett told the Chicago Tribune she had no prior knowledge of the history that took place that night. But she and a small group of other Black Miss Illinois Teen USA were rooting for one another, nonetheless.
“There were very few Black girls competing,” said Bennett. “We were all close friends and talked about how it had to be the year for one of us to take it. No matter who, we wanted one of us to win.”