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Vanessa Lynn Williams is an American actress, singer, and fashion designer. She initially gained recognition as the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. However, a few prior to the end of her reign. Williams thus resigned as Miss America on July 22,1984, a few years later, she rebounded as an entertainer with the song The Right Stuff. She then had a string of albums and singles and also found success as an actress. You have lived life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984. Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of todays organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are, Vanessa Lynn Williams was born in the The Bronx, New York, with a birth announcement that read, Here she is, Miss America. Her maternal great-great grandfather was William A. Feilds, an African-American legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives and her mother, Helen Tinch, met her father, Milton Augustine Williams Jr. while both were music education students at Fredonia State Teachers College in the late 1950s. They both became elementary school music teachers after marriage, though their positions were in separate districts. Milton also served as the Assistant Principal of his school for a period of time. Williams was raised Roman Catholic, the religion of her father and her mother, who had been raised Baptist, converted to Catholicism when she got married. Williams was baptized at Our Lady of Grace Church in the Bronx, Williams mother played the organ at St. Theresas Church in Briarcliff Manor for weddings and at mass and Williams used to assist her mother by turning the pages of sheet music. Williams and her younger brother Chris grew up in a predominantly white suburb of New York City. Williams believes that she may have been the first African-American student to go from the first grade to the 12th grade in the Chappaqua Central School District. As the child of teachers, Williams grew up in a musical household, studying classical and jazz dance, French horn, piano. Thus, in 1981, Williams joined Syracuses College of Visual and Performing Arts and she stayed at Syracuse through her sophomore year, until she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. Twenty-five years later in May 2008, Syracuse granted Williams a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, according to Syracuse News, Williams earned the remaining credits for her degree through industry experience and her substantial performances on stage and screen