Bahamians Latifia Cockburn and Jadesha Shonette are among some 65 women representing the United States of America, Australia, The Bahamas, Cameroon, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands are competing this weekend for four coveted Black International Ambassador crowns – Miss, Teen, Ms. and Mrs. Divisions as well as thousands of dollars in cash and scholarships, business grants and prizes.
On the MBIA site, Cockburn competes for the Teen title; Shonette competes for the Miss title.
The Miss Black International Ambassador Pageant (MBIA), which is described as the largest grassroots pageant for Black women around the world, and which is now in its eighth year, will be held at the Baha Mar Grand Hyatt Resort on Saturday, June 26 – the first time the pageant is being held outside the United States.
Hosted by Ambassadors of Change (AOC) Incorporated, MBIA exists to give contestants ranging in ages from 14 to 60-years, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as ambassadors of change and encourage, empower, and enlighten communities, states and nations.
Pageant officials describe the MBIA pageant winners as global agents who are raising voices in the community and making a difference by providing educational forums and events that focus on health disparities, poverty, violence, and significant issues plaguing Black communities. And as role models not only to young African American women, but to Black women around the world as they partner with key political figures and international initiatives to bring support to their efforts and platforms.
Pageant officials say the women are more than a pretty face, and the program is more than a competition – but a program that gives 365 days of support and resources to communities in need.
The MBIA program they say is a platform for today’s savvy, smart and aware Black women to express their viewpoints, talents, and accomplishments to the international public, while offering scholarships and grant opportunities to further educate and expand their businesses.
In the week contestants have been on island, and leading up to this weekend’s finale, contestants have been able to “get a taste” of the island life.
“It’s important that while they are here, they also get to experience the rich culture that The Bahamas has to offer,” said Patrice Harrison, CEO and founder of MBIA and AOC. “I’ve said it before and I will continue to say that The Bahamas is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with stunning backdrops, peaceful settings and amazing hospitality.”
With COVID-19 testing protocols in place through a partnership with Doctors Hospital, a day of empowerment and activities was hosted for 100 local girls and 28 mentors from the Women and Girls Mentorship Coalition, founded by Patricia Minnis from the Office of Spouse of the Prime Minister and directed by Dr. Ann Higgins. Many of the young women were impacted by Hurricane Dorian or are from underprivileged backgrounds. The group was treated to lunch, journals, hair and beauty supplies, toiletries, back-to-school supplies and heard from motivational speakers, including nine-year-old actress and influencer Charity Joy Harrison, and the current Miss, Teen, Ms. and Mrs. Black International Ambassador.
It is a partnership Harrison said she was comfortable facilitating, given the safety protocols in place for the event and in the country-at-large, with all of her attendees either testing negative and/or vaccinated.
Tickets for MBIA are on sale. Due to safety protocols and restrictions, space is limited, and the final event will be taped for television.