Gist, Carole 1970(?)—

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Carole Gist 1970(?)

Miss USA 1990

At a Glance


Carole Gist of Detroit, Michigan, made history in 1990 when she became the first black woman ever to capture the title of Miss USA, an honor which brought her over $200,000 in cash and prizes, and the opportunity to represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant. The former Miss Michigan and student of marketing and managementwho stated a life ambition of establishing a performing arts foundation for disadvantaged childrenbeat out 50 other contestants for the prestigious honor. Two months later, the six-foot beauty came very close to yet another milestone, when she finished as first runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.

Gists Miss USA pageant victory marked a life achievement of rising above obstacles. As she described herself in Jet, Gist was not a stereotypical all-American winner. Raised in a single-parent home, Gist often relocated with her mother and siblings, and lived in some of the roughest neighborhoods of inner-city Detroit. My home was broken into a lot, she said. Money was scarce in her family, and Gists early ambitions towards the arts were affected: I wanted to dance and I wanted to learn to play the piano and violin. But my mother couldnt afford all those things, she told Ardis Carthane in Jet. Despite such difficulties, however, Gistwho was an honors student in high schoolmaintained a confident outlook, and today looks at her past as important in building strength. I do believe that some of the negative things in my childhood are positive for me now. They made me what I am today, she told Jet, adding, I had not the happiest of upbringings, but you dont have to become a statistic just because you grew up in a broken home.

After becoming the first black Miss USA, Gist had these words of advice for other ground-breakers: Its nice to be the first at something. You know you dont have to wait around and wait for someone else to do it. Go for it. Just because someone else hasnt done it before you you never know, you might have what it takes to be the first. Gist sees her winning the title as another important step in black achievement. As quoted by Carthane, Gist said: Its all a part of taking pride in our [peoples] heritage and culture. We are people destined for greatness. We have it in our blood, we have the knowledge and the knack. Gist is a reminder, according to Carthane, that though a person doesnt grow up with

At a Glance

Full name, Carole Anne-Marie Gist; born c. 1970; mother, Joan Gist; father, David Turner; raised in Detroit, Ml. Part-time club singer in Midland, Ml; crowned Miss Michigan, 1989; crowned Miss USA, 1990; first runner-up, Miss Universe, April, 1990. Education: Graduated from Cass Technical High School, Detroit, 1987; attended Northwood Institute, Midland, Mich.

a silver spoon in her mouth, she can still taste the good things in life.


Jet, March 19, 1990; March 26, 1990.

Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1990.

TV Guide, April 14, 1990.

Michael E. Mueller