Oh, to be young again and know what I know today!!! From My Book:
One week before competing in The Miss America Pageant, my chaperone and I flew to New York City where, in addition to photography sessions, news conferences, and lunch with the Mayor of New York City, I appeared on the Today Show and
the Ed Sullivan Show. It may be impossible for some to remember so far back but, in the fifties, Television was live--no taping—and in black and white-- no color. Television was the rage and everyone in America, rich, middle class or poor
craved a television set. Television quickly became the number one form of entertainment across the USA.
The morning of my scheduled
Today Show appearance, my chaperone felt ill and unable to accompany me to the NBC Studios. She asked the hotel’s manager to place me in a reputable Taxi and tell the driver my destination. Seemingly friendly, the driver mentioned my southern accent
and asked where I was from. I proudly told him I was Miss Arkansas and.....before I could say more.....the driver swerved his taxi to the curb and ordered me to “Get your ass out of my taxi—you arrogant-racist!” Scared beyond words,
I jumped out of the taxi’s back seat and had barely closed the door before the taxi sped away.
Looking around, I had no idea where
I was or where I was going. But, like in the movies, a police officer walked up to me and said “Lady, you look lost, can I help you?” You may not know it but Southern women tend to be a little demonstrative, especially when they feel
“thankful.” Without a second thought, I threw my arms around my hero---this larger-than-life policeman--- and hugged him. A few minutes later, I was sitting in the back of a patrol car being driven to the studios of NBC, home of The Today
Too bad no hero appeared to “save” me from the questions I received that morning, questions like “Why does your
Governor hate Negros?” or “Why does your state insist on treating Negros like slaves?” No one forewarned me or “prepped” me for answering political questions. It was live, national television which could be brutal.
I was a beauty queen, not a politician, but I answered each question. Later that evening, I received a telegram from the advertising agent who managed the Miss Arkansas Pageant: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln--did you enjoy
the Play?” I suppose I wasn’t very wise to the ways of the world at that age. It took me several years to figure out the meaning of that telegram.
Before arriving in Atlantic City for the Pageant, I’d been told the Miss Arkansas Float would be one of the most expensive and eye-catching floats in the Boardwalk Parade. The Miss Arkansas Committee had increased
their Pageant Budget so the Float carrying Miss Arkansas in the Boardwalk Parade could be designed and decorated by New York City’s most experienced parade-float professionals. The evening of the parade, seeing the float for the first time, I was
shocked. It was gaudy-ugly; it carried out a gold and black Cleopatra-Egyptian theme, complete with an elaborate throne flanked by black panthers wearing rhinestone collars. Not only was it completely over-the-top, but the black panthers and the elaborate
throne.....hinted of centuries-old slavery. When the parade crew helped me on the throne, one man remarked, “Who would put Black Panthers on a Beauty Queen float, anyway? They distract from the Beauty Queen!!!!!”
My driver found our place in the parade line-up and almost immediately, the parade music began. We’d traveled approximately five hundred feet and I was waving, smiling,
greeting the crowds when, out of nowhere, objects began hitting me; the float was quickly littered with tomatoes, apples, tennis balls, paper cups, ice and other liquids....all smashing on and around me.... striking my head, my body, and discoloring
my white gown. At the same time, the float began wobbling and shaking as angry people, shouting ugly names like “Slave-Lover” and “Racist Bitch” were trying to climb onboard. Within seconds, the float and surrounding area was alive
with police and security. They stopped the parade, cleared everyone away and, concerned for my physical well-being, found a doctor to give me a quick once-over. The parade crew was attempting to clean both me and my float when they received news that,
for security reasons, my float was being pulled from the parade. The Chief of Police escorted me to his car and safely-back to my hotel.
several local reporters mentioned that the National Press had been running a series of articles, mostly appearing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, featuring Arkansas’s Governor Faubus and the state’s race problems. One reporter brought
me a Philadelphia newspaper--- featuring me in a large photo--- accompanied by an article titled: Miss Arkansas proudly represents a Southern State---a State that abuses, mistreats, and murders Negros.
So---what prompted Parade-Float Professionals—who were paid Top Dollars to decorate a classic Float for Miss Arkansas--- to feature Black Panthers?!?