Daily Point of Light # 2767 Sep 13, 2004

Cierra Johnson was born and raised in Sylacauga, Alabama. She is a twenty-three year old senior at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama and for the past several years she has been an outstanding role model, volunteer and citizen. She competes in the Miss America Scholarship program and is the reigning Miss Sylacauga. Her platform is entitled “Dare to Be Different,” and Cierra has made a dramatic difference not only in Sylacauga but also for the entire state of Alabama.

Cierra’s choice to commit herself to a rather touchy subject has made an impact in her home state. She has implemented the Teaching Tolerance program in more than 2,000 schools throughout Alabama. She has traveled to endless arenas informing and training educators on the importance of having a tolerance based environment in the classroom. Each week, she travels to Sylacauga to teach diversity to the children that participate in an after school program called BRIDGES. In addition, Cierra has been given a $2,000 grant for the program to use towards the purchase of materials for a multicultural library. She has donated in excess of 500 books and has started a multicultural video library at the B.B. Comer Memorial Library.

Her love for children and her community can be seen in so many places across the state. In Montgomery, Cierra teaches a diversity class at Maxwell Air Force Base to the community and the incoming chaplains. Cierra is the founder, director and coordinator of “Diversity Week” at Huntingdon College. During this week, students, faculty and the community come together for a weeklong celebration of diversity, life and freedom. Due to her tireless efforts to promote diversity, Cierra’s name will appear on the “Wall of Tolerance” in 2005 at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial Center. She is presently working as an intern for the Teaching Tolerance program and hopes to one day become the Director at the Center.

Cierra’s recent capture of the Miss Sylacauga title was exciting for her town. It is the longest running preliminary in the state of Alabama, and in its 68th year, Johnson is the first African-American to hold the title. Her win is an inspiration to many young girls in Sylacauga and has inspired both the young and old to never give up. Cierra will continue to be dedicated to her platform of tolerance for life and far beyond her crown. She says,” I promoted tolerance yesterday, I promote tolerance today and I will promote tolerance tomorrow and forever.”