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16-Year-old crowned as the first Black Miss Illinois Teen USA in history

By Taryn Finley,

Sydni Dion Bennett made history last month by becoming the first black girl to be crowned Miss Illinois Teen USA in the competition’s 34-year history.

In a Chicago Tribune profile published Friday, the 16-year-old dance coach said that this was her second time competing in the show (last year she won second runner-up), but it wasn’t until right before the competition that she found out that no black teen had ever won.

“I found out the night before the final show, actually. It made me want to fight harder and to win for all the black girls around, not just for myself,” she told the outlet. “I didn’t feel less about my ability to win because no black girl had done it; it put a drive in me rather than a doubt.”


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