The Bessie Smith Cultural Center held its 2nd annual scholarship pageant Saturday, February 9th.

Contestants at the 2019 Bessie Smith Scholarship pageant came from all across the Chattanooga area just to compete to be crowned "Miss Bessie Smith".

The theme of the scholarship pageant was the roaring 20's, to honor the late Bessie Smith.

Bessie Smith was known as the "Empress of the Blues" in the 1920s

The cultural center was built in her honor with a goal to preserve and celebrate African-American history and culture

Five contestants competed in a number of categories which were causal wear, talent presentation, evening ensemble, and on-stage questioning.

The event serves as a gateway to reach into the community and uplift young women.

Paula Wilkes, the President of the cultural center said, "The funds we make off this pageant go to our education program so it helps put programs into school and bring children to the Bessie."

Kayia Moore who was the first ever Miss Bessie Smith won her crown in 2018.

The winner, A'naya Nelson, will now take her place.

Moore gladly passed on the torch, but not without a final message.

Moore said, "Stay true to yourself, you can only be you. When you try to be others it doesn't come off right, as long as you are you, you are the best you, you can be."

A'naya Nelson will represent the Bessie Smith Cultural Center at various community events throughout her year of service.

The winner of the “Spirit of Bessie Smith" is Jeliia Pierce.

This prize was awarded to the person who was able to raise the most money for the pageant.