Miss Milwaukee makes her own history

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Photo by Photo courtesy of Jada Davis

Jada Davis is the first Black woman to win Miss Milwaukee

The city of Milwaukee witnessed history when a Black woman was chosen as the city’s Miss Milwaukee for the first time in the program’s nearly 100 year history. She also happens to be a Marquette law student.

Jada Davis, a second-year student in the Marquette Law School, was announced as this year’s Miss Milwaukee March 19. The pageant leads Davis to the Miss Wisconsin competition which takes place June 15-18 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the winner of that goes on to Miss America.

The 23-year-old Milwaukee native is excited for the opportunity, especially with the history that she’s made. But even with her achievement, Davis is surprised it took this long for a Black woman to be chosen for the title, as Milwaukee has a 38.7% Black population.

“I was like, ‘It’s 2022. This organization has been around for how long? And I’m the first?'” Davis said. “Milwaukee is such a diverse city and to know that there hasn’t been a Black woman chosen from Milwaukee yet is something that I think is reflected of the times that we live in. Where we’re still growing and working on recognizing Black women for their talents, their intellect, all that good stuff.”

Davis originally tried out for Miss West Allis back in February. Despite not winning, she decided to try out for Miss Milwaukee a few weeks later, with the support of her friends and family.

“I’m someone who doesn’t really like to take ‘no.’ So after that first competition, I kind of had a chip on my shoulder. I was like ‘I need to at least do another one to redeem myself or see what happens,” Davis said.

Check out the audio package for this story by A&E Audio Producer Julianna Okosun.

 

Davis returned for law school after completing her undergraduate degree at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She always considered going to Marquette Law School when deciding where she wanted to go, but she said the COVID-19 lockdown helped make her decision of where to go easier.

“I graduated in 2020, so being able to be close to home and at least have that support while we were in difficult times sort of made me stay. I think Marquette is a great place and I’m glad to still be in Milwaukee and in my hometown in general,” Davis said.

Davis is involved with the Entertainment Law Society and the Black Law Student Association at Marquette as well as the Children and Family Law Society.

As part of the pageant, contestants have a social impact initiative, which is an issue the contestant is passionate about. Davis’ initiative is “What’s Wrong with Being Confident,” is about encouraging people, especially younger women, to overcome their imposter syndrome and be more confident about themselves.

“When I was younger I was sort of an awkward person. I think that stems a lot from my lack of confidence with who I was as a person. So I definitely want other people to see that and be confident in who they are and go after the things they want and not feel like have to change themselves to be a part of something that they don’t fit in to,” Davis said.

Davis has a strong support group in her run for Miss Milwaukee. And that includes Kali Murray, a professor of Law, who saw the qualities Davis holds when she had her in her 1L property class.

“I would say that the quality she demonstrated with her in-class performance was poised,” Murray said in an email.  “Jada has a very calm and thoughtful demeanor and is a very good listener. Given the public nature of the Miss Milwaukee position, I think her quiet strength would be an excellent asset.”

Murray also believes that what Davis is doing can lead to a better connection with Marquette and the Milwaukee community.

“A Marquette Miss Milwaukee is a fun and unusual way for Marquette to engage with the larger Milwaukee community. Sometimes, Marquette has been isolated from the broader Milwaukee community and Jada’s tenure will help to send a positive message of the university’s commitment to community engagement,” Murray said.

Rebecca Plank, co-executive director for the Miss Milwaukee competition, explains that Davis truly embodies what Miss Milwaukee has to offer.

“She can definitely go into the community inspire the youth of today,” Plank said.

This story was written by Rashad Alexander. He can be reached at rashad.alexander@marquette.edu.