Sunday night’s forecast: Timeless tunes and anxious adolescents.  
The annual Miss Black Ardmore and Mr. Debonair pageant will be held at 5 p.m. January 14 at the Brass Ring Performing Arts Center. This year’s theme is “Achieving Your Dreams,” and will feature classic Motown songs.
Pageant director Mary Johnson has been running the pageant for nearly 40 years now. She said Clara Luper, an activist, asked her to start the Ardmore pageant.
“She contacted me about 38 years ago,” Johnson said. “I’d never put one together before.”
Johnson said back then, the need for a pageant for black girls in Ardmore was about much more and still is.
“Black young ladies had no place to showcase their talents and to earn scholarships,” Johnson said. “There was no avenue for them during segregation, that’s just the way it was. [Luper] asked me to help these young ladies find something they could connect with.”
Johnson said then and now, the pageant emphasizes character and intelligence over looks.
 “It’s more than just modeling, it’s about intelligence and preparing these young ladies for the future,” Johnson said. “We let them know we support them, so they won’t be afraid to step out and try new things.”
Winners earn a scholarship for Langston University. Local pageant winners will advance to the state level. The contestants will compete in interview, sportswear and dresswear categories.
Younger participants sometimes participate non-competitively, brushing up on their pageant skills until they’re old enough to compete for the title.
Johnson said the contestants have been prepping since October, learning interview, posture and modeling skills. They also do volunteer work and must show they’re involved in their community.
“We’re trying to develop leaders, not only in our schools, but in our community, and that’s a big feat in and of itself,” Johnson said. “The pageant prepares you for life. If you make it through this process, you can see anything through.”
During downtime, emcees will lead the audience in a “Name That Tune” contest, where they can win prizes. This year’s emcees will be Beautiful Joy Fields and Jorell Smallwood, two seniors from Langston University.