The first non-black winner of a beauty pageant at Hampton University has faced a walkout by spectators angry that a white woman was crowned Homecoming Queen.
Nikole Churchill, 22, won the contest at the college town in southern Virginia, but while she was all smiles, not everyone in the community was happy about the victory, the Times reports.
As well as the walkout, Miss Churchill had to contend with scowls, rather than the traditional sunny smiles, when she posed for a portrait with the runners up. All nine of the other contestants in the competition were black.
The following day Miss Churchill was heckled at a college football game and a previous Miss Hampton University said she was "very shocked" there was a white winner. "We've never had one before," Patrece Parson said.
In response, Miss Churchill, whose father is from Guam, wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama, saying: "I feel as though you could relate to my situation.
"I am sad to say that my crowning was not widely accepted . . . the true reason for the disapproval was because of the colour of my skin.
"I am not African-American."
The letter also caused offence, with Brittany Riddock, a second-year student, telling The Washington Post there was "no comparison between a black man becoming President and a white woman winning a beauty pageant at a black school".
Hampton University, at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, is one of more than 80 historically black colleges in the US whose student populations are only gradually coming to reflect the diversity they exist to promote, largely because non-blacks have been slow to apply to them.