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February 4: Osas Ighodaro and Karen Arrington
Osas Ighodaro and Karen Arrington
In 1986, Karen Arrington founded the Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant to showcase the beauty and talents of African-American women, and this year crowned Osas Ighodaro Miss Black USA. The pageant leads a grass-roots movement to raise awareness of heart disease prevention for young women nationwide
Karen Arrington, the Founder of Miss Black USA is known as more than just the Founder of the premier pageant for young African American women. Service is her guiding light and the soul of the Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant. Since the pageant’s founding in 1986, under Karen’s visionary leadership, over 100,000 hours of dedicated service has been provided to communities across the nation.
Affectionately known as the “The Queen of Service”, Karen has empowered hundreds of young women to use their “platforms” and “girl power” to uplift and serve their communities raising awareness of diabetes, HIV-AIDS, domestic abuse and violence against women, and other issues that affect women and disproportionately affect African American women.
A long-time women’s empowerment advocate, Karen’s strong desire and commitment to close the gap in health disparities, led her to the establishment of a national community service partnership with the Heart Truth campaign. In 2009, she led a grass-roots movement to raise awareness of heart disease, the #1 killer of women, recognizing that if we can reach women at a much younger age, we can prevent the disease later. The heart health campaign encourages women to live a healthy lifestyle, get moving, get motivated and get fit.
Karen’s service extends well beyond the borders of the U.S. In 2007, Karen realized her dream to create a bridge to connect African Americans to the Diaspora. Concerned about the health status of our women in the Diaspora and undeveloped nations, Karen founded and successfully launched the first Diabetes Awareness Campaign in The Gambia, West Africa where her helping hands offered free testing, diagnosis, treatment and education to the Gambian People. No good deed goes unnoticed. While in the Gambia, Karen was honored by Binte Kinte, the seventh generation and oldest living relative of Kunte Kinte and descendent of Alex Hailey (Roots). In the same year, Karen was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador to The Gambia. Other honors include being featured in the Inaugural Edition of “Who’s Who” in Black DC as "Outstanding Community Leader" and honored as one of twenty-five “Women of Excellence” in the 2011 Edition of “Who’s Who in Black DC.
Osas Ighodaro Osas Ighodaro was born and raised in the home of the New York Yankees – Bronx, New York. With her whole family from Nigeria, she is proud to be apart of her family’s first American born generation. Being a Nigerian-American has taught her the importance of family, pride, and never forgetting where one comes from.
Osas graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism and dual minor degrees in Entrepreneurship and Theatre. After graduation, Osas starred in her first feature film as well as in an array of independent and short films. She proudly performed in the New York Fringe Festival and also hosted a half hour television show which showcased the arts, politics, and issues of the African Diaspora. Currently, Osas is a candidate for the Masters of Fine Arts in Acting at the Actors Studio – Pace University.
Her work as an actress, model, dancer, journalist and community advocate have taken her throughout the U.S. and abroad but most recently to the state of Connecticut where she is actively involved in raising awareness of heart disease, the #1 killer of women. Osas believes a person’s time is purely a small token of appreciation towards others.
Osas’ interests besides spending time with family/friends and performing include traveling, meeting new people, and giving back to the community. During her reign, she is dedicating her time and efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote heart health.