Hailing from the Caribbean island of Grenada, photographer Raphael Albert (1935–2009) moved to London in 1953 where he became a freelance photographer working for black British newspapers. One of his earliest assignments changed the shape of his destiny, as he covered the Miss Jamaica beauty pageant for West Indian World.
Inspired by the spirit of the times Raphael began hosting local beauty pageants for black women before packed crowds at the legendary Hammersmith Palais in West London, a tradition that continued for more than three decades, into the 1980s. With titles like Miss Black and Beautiful, Miss West Indies in Great Britain, and Miss Grenada, Albert cast aside the European standards of beauty in order to shine a spotlight on the inherent beauty of the African race, showcasing women of all skin tones, hair types, and facial features in the mix.
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Photo: (unidentified) Miss Black & Beautiful with fellow contestants, London, Hammersmith Palais, 1970s. From the portfolio "Black Beauty Pageants". Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph ABP.