September 19, 2018

Winston Native Crowned Miss America, But Poverty In Winston Keeps Many From Achieving Their Dreams

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Monday, the Winston-Salem City Council honored Nia Franklin, the recently crowned Miss America. Though Franklin’s pageant sash read New York, the 2018 Miss New York was born and raised in Winston, though she attended high school at North Davidson (a stain upon her hometown girl narrative that can be overlooked).

Recently, I asked a classmate of hers at North Davidson what she remembered of Franklin? My African American friend told me, that “being Black at North Davidson” they were definitely in the same social circles. She described Franklin as someone who was driven, someone who she knew would be successful.

Nia Franklin obtained her undergraduate degree in music composition at East Carolina, before obtaining a master’s degree from the UNC School of the Arts. Her talents as an opera singer brought her to New York. Now she’s become the first Miss America crowned without the indignity of being judged in a swimsuit.

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Nia Franklin was fondly remembered in the City Council Chamber Monday night. Members of her family and local church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church filled the council chamber to honor a gifted young woman.

The City of Winston declared September 17, 2018, as Nia Imani Franklin Day. Franklin’s mother said that it is still unbelievable that her daughter is Miss America.

Councilmember James Taylor said that “I want our little boys and girls to know that you can be anything that you want to be from this city.”

There is nothing wrong with encouraging children. But technically Mr. Taylor is wrong. For too many children in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, entrenched poverty will keep them from reaching their dreams.

Sadly, if you’re born poor in Winston, they’re a good chance that you will spend your whole life in that condition. That’s what a 2015 national study on economic mobility tells us. East of Highway 52 there is a large Black underclass largely abandoned by the W-S City Council.

“If you’re born poor here, the odds of climbing up the economic ladder are only worse in two Indian reservations in South Dakota, according to a nationwide 2015 study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty.”       –

Concentrated poverty in East Winston has gotten much worse during Mayor Allen Joines time in office. Winston’s longest-serving mayor and Vivian Burke, the city’s longest-serving councilmember have failed to address poverty in Winston.

Growth in concentrated poverty shows increasing economic, racial segregation in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County:


Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. The WS/FC School System is also partially to blame for poverty in Winston. Lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly and in Congress also bear a great deal of responsibility for the growth of concentrated poverty.

That being said, there is much more that can be done at the municipal level. But Mayor Joines and Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke are too busy promoting their friend’s development projects to help the people in Winston who need their help the most.



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