Courtney Pearson just became the first African-American woman to be elected homecoming queen at the University of Mississippi.
As Tell Me More's Michel Martin says on the show today, Courtney's crowning not only breaks a barrier, it also comes at a noteworthy time: 50 years after James Meredith's enrollment as the school's first African-American student.
But Courtney tells Michel that as far as she knows, race wasn't a factor in the voting that made her queen.
"I definitely do not think that race came up," Courtney said. As a friend told her, " 'I had no idea that we had never had a black homecoming queen' " before, and that " 'it's important for you to know that we didn't vote for you because you are black. ... We voted for you because we thought you were deserving."
Something that also didn't come up during the campaign for queen is her size, Courtney said. "I never heard anything, honestly nothing negative, until after the election was won," she said, and the negative comments about her full figure were from "people who don't go here."
"I'm honestly very confident with the way I look," said Courtney. And as for those who had harsh things to say, "it's really just mean. If you want to be mean, you can be mean by yourself."
There's much more from Michel's conversation with Courtney on today's Tell Me More. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.