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Beauty pageant winner wears Black Lives Matter-inspired dress to raise awareness: 'We can all be equ

Abena Appiah, the first African American to represent the United States in the Miss Grand International pageant, recently went head-to-head with 62 other beauty queens. And not only did she win the title on March 27, but she also used the worldwide stage as an opportunity to bring awareness to social justice issues.

One of the ways she did this was through a custom dress worn during the "National Costume" segment of the competition. The gown featured portraits of victims of police brutality such as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Akai Garley. "I am basically trying to tell people that even though there's so much corruption and hate crimes in our society if we come together as one — we can all be equal," she shares with Yahoo Life about the meaning behind the look.

The 27-year-old powerhouse holds a bachelor of science from SUNY Purchase in New York newand is also a musical artist and anti-bullying advocate who hopes to "inspire and motivate young women to be the best versions of themselves and to encourage them to follow their dreams and passions."

Appiah is also in the process of starting a virtual program called "Heavy Crown Academy," which will "be geared towards uplifting young women of color and giving them the tools she gained during her journey through the pageantry world." She hopes that it will give "women the courage and confidence to compete in these competitions and build a foundation of confidence to conquer the world with its many obstacles."

Appiah spoke to Yahoo Life about her new title, her past experiences with bullying and what it means to be the person you needed as a child.

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