Family and local church honor Miss America 2019

November 08
05:00 2018


By Busta Brown, The Chronicle

“I knew when I met her, she was going to be Miss America,” said Miss America Board Member Mack Hooper. Mack had the standing-room-only audience at Mount Zion Baptist Church laughing as he shared details about his confidence in Winston-Salem native Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin. “I knew if she made the top 15, she was going to win, and that’s what happened. She made the top ten and after she sang, I had 300 texts saying ‘it’s over.’” The audience laughed and cheered. “… and I thought to myself, it is over, it’s done and over with.”

I was fortunate to witness Nia Franklin’s angelic voice as she sang “Quando m’en vo” from the opera, La Boheme this past Sunday at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. It was an afternoon filled with tears of joy, laughter, and love as family and friends came out to honor one of their own, Miss America 2019.

“When Nia was so little, we knew she was special, because you know your children; you know who they are. But of course, we had no idea the plans that God had for her. We give God all the glory, honor and praise. He deserves it,” said Nia’s mother, Kristy Franklin.

The audience gave Kristy and God a thunderous applause, as Nia began to tear up and gently wiped away her tears. Mrs. Franklin went on to say, have your tools ready because God will find the work, “… so you have to prepare yourself, and we’re so grateful that Nia was prepared for what God is doing with her.”

One of my favorite moments of Mrs. Franklin’s speech was when she talked about running onto the stage after Nia won Miss America. She joked, “They let me run on stage. Nia looked at me like mommy why are you up here?” The audience roared with laughter as Nia nodded her head yes and laughed.

James Franklin was more laid back with his speech about his princess. “Kristy and I made a commitment to keep our kids inundated and saturated in church. I really cannot underscore this enough. This world is too mean, cruel, and too nasty not to have your children in church.” The room was filled with applause and tears. Nia looked at her father with admiration as he continued, “Children you got to fight for what’s yours. All these extra curriculum activities should come second. If your children are in church, God is going to make sure He takes care of them, because God doesn’t renege on his word. That’s a fact, so please keep your children in church.”

Miss America’s Vice President of Field Operations Marc Angeli spoke very highly of Nia as well. “We know Nia is the person to spread the message of love, hope and peace, the message that needs to be heard across this country, and knowing she has a foundation here in this room and across the city, I know she’s going to have a fantastic year and she has our support behind her as well.” He congratulated Nia and gave her a hug. It was clear how much the Miss America team admired and believed in Franklin and she in them. The vibe was all love and they were an extended family to the Franklins and vice versa.

Miss America 2019 finally stepped to the podium and you can hear the trembling in her voice from crying and shedding tears of joy. She wipes her tears away and tries to compose herself; she was overwhelmed with all the love and support. Nia’s pastor, Dr. Serenus Theopolis Churn, was sitting next to the podium smiling, filled with joy as he watched the little girl he baptized years ago, now a beautiful, intelligent and talented grown woman, wearing the crown and sash every little girl dreams about.

She looks at her parents, pastor, family and friends with gratitude, as she continues wiping her tears, and she gives a warm and sweet smile. “I love you guys so much. You didn’t have to do all this for me, but I do really appreciate it. It’s been such a fantastic day of love and humor from people I know love and care about me.” She thanked Dr. Churn and his wife for their support: “You’ve been there for me through the best and worst of times and I’ll never forget that.” She thanked Mayor Allen Joines and Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke for attending and presenting her with the key to the city of Winston-Salem. Go to the Winstonsalem Chronicle YouTube channel to see more from Mount Zion Baptist Church’s tribute to Nia Franklin.

Franklin shared a story about her church family. “This is just one of many, I could stand all” as she giggles. She asked Mrs. Griffin to please stand and began sharing the story. “I competed for my first year for Miss North Carolina and lost, and my mom said Mrs. Griffin said that she will not die until you win Miss America.” And of course, there was lots of laughter from the audience and even Nia laughed her tears away. Franklin said after hearing that, she had to compete again, and the rest is Winston-Salem history. She thanked the praise team and children’s choir for embracing her as a child. “Thank you for believing in me. It all started for me in the church and glad that I have that as a part of my story, and I hope that when I have kids it’ll be the same thing, because it made me feel closer to God.”

Go to the Winstonsalem Chronicle YouTube channel to see more from Mount Zion Baptist Church’s tribute to Nia Franklin, her phenomenal performance of “Quando m’en vo” from the opera, La Boheme, other dynamic performances, more of Nia’s speech, and my interview with Miss America 2019. She shares her thoughts on today’s music, her relationship with God, a message to young girls, her phenomenal performance, of her response to my comment about the success with the Civil Rights Movement, and what movement needs to happen with this generation to take America to the next level. You’ll be amazed with her response.

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