This Miss America will miss this America

Caressa Cameron is ‘very, very proud’ of Obama, but thinks Trump could spark a ‘much-needed dialogue’

By John McCaslin/Rappahannock News
Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron of Orange County, Va., detects at least one positive development with the election of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president.

There is no doubt that outgoing President Barack Obama has been impressed with the accomplishments and influence of Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron.

Consider that the Fredericksburg native and former Miss Virginia, an accomplished vocalist who has performed at the 44th president’s inauguration and even once helped him light the White House Christmas tree, has lectured 40,000 students across the country about healthy choices, including steering clear of HIV/AIDS.

Cameron speaks from the heart: when she was eight years old she lost her “favorite uncle” to AIDS.

For this cause and others, Obama presented the young Locust Grove wife and mother with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Now, as the second and final term of Obama’s presidency draws to a close tomorrow (Friday) and President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office, Cameron shared her thoughts on the already stormy transition and likelihood that Republicans will dismantle large portions of the president’s legacy.

“I do hope he is encouraged enough to know that he ignited enough of a fire, especially in people of my [20-something] generation, that his legacy will not die,” she said during an interview Sunday before an appearance at the Theatre at Little Washington’s annual Martin Luther King Day celebration.

That younger generation, she was confident, “will continue to do all that we can to invoke change in this country in a way that will be positive for years and years to come.”

As for further rift on the horizon between Obama and Trump, Cameron praised the outgoing president for displaying at least publicly a calm demeanor.

“I think what’s awesome . . . is that someone can be as [proud as Obama is of his accomplishments] and be as gracious [to Trump] at the exact same time,” she pointed out.

“I know that he has built this huge legacy. And to see that some of those things may come into conflict now is difficult,” she said. “I know if it were me I would probably want to kick, scream and cuss. I am very, very proud of him.

“I’m heartbroken,” she admitted, adding with a smile: “Can we just ratify the Constitution and do a third, fourth and fifth term?”

On the subject of racism in the United States, she credits Trump, who was slammed by top members of his own party over alleged racist remarks during the campaign, for unintentionally opening the door to much-needed race dialogue.

“The thing I am most optimistic about with Donald Trump becoming the president . . . is it’s forcing us to have this conversation,” she explained.

Before the recent presidential campaign, she continued, many Americans assumed “racism doesn’t exist because we have a black president, right? That’s the first thing people want to say.

“Now [Trump] is forcing us to have these really, really uncomfortable conversations because it’s 2017 and we’re dealing with some stuff that’s a little ugly.

“[Thanks to the president-elect] we now will be pulling up the carpet and seeing what’s underneath and we will have to decide what are we doing about it as a country.”

 

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