19 Former Miss America Winners Call for Resignation of Gretchen Carlson and Board

“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing,” Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron-Jackson says

Gretchen Carlson

Former Miss America Caressa Cameron-Jackson backed reigning titleholder Cara Mund’s criticism of the MAO and chairperson Gretchen Carlson in an interview with “Good Morning America” Monday. And she’s got 18 other former titleholders on her side.

Cameron-Jackson is part of a group of 19 former winners who are requesting the board of trustees, Carlson, and president and CEO Regina Hopper step down from their posts. The call to action comes after Mund released a letter which accused Carlson and Hopper of bullying, manipulation and intimidation.

“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing,” Cameron-Jackson, Miss America 2010, told “GMA.” “[J]ust because we are asking for our chair and our CEO to step down does not mean the Miss America pageant will not happen and I think it will send a clear message — not only to our new Miss America but to the public that we are willing to do the right thing so that Miss America who is crowned on September 9 will not have to go through what Cara [Mund] has gone through.”

On Sunday, Carlson denied accusations leveled against her by Mund that she had been “controlled,” “silenced” and “bullied.”

In a lengthy statement posted on social media, Carlson wrote that she was “saddened” by Mund’s words and emphasized that she was proud of her and her accomplishments. “I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” Carlson wrote.

“In fact,” Carlson continued, “I have acknowledged to you and your parents many times that the organization understands the frustration of serving during a change-filled and stressful year. It surely was not what you had expected.”

On Friday, Mund released a letter addressed to her “Miss America Sisters,” saying that the rhetoric that the organization empowers women is not what she has experienced firsthand. She went on to write that she wasn’t comfortable being “controlled, manipulated, silenced, or bullied,” and that the Carlson and the CEO had “systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America.”

Carlson, who was the 1989 Miss America, denied the charges and said Mund’s actions already had consequences.

“$75,000 in scholarships which would have been the first scholarship increase in years, is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter,” Carlson wrote. “The impact won’t stop there – we are already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization, and I am so concerned that it will dilute the experience for the next woman selected to wear the crown.”

“[W]e are not going to do the victim-shaming here,” Cameron-Jackson told “GMA” of disagreeing with Carlson’s response. “I’m sure she [Carlson] didn’t want that when she was part of the #MeToo movement and I think that these sponsorships will return when they see that we are willing to do the right thing. I don’t think that it’s also fair if someone has [said], ‘You hurt me’ to say, ‘No, I didn’t.’”

“I think what should have been said was, ‘I’m sorry for anything I have done that would have made you feel as though,’ and then continue on, but you don’t get to outright say, ‘No, I didn’t,’” she added.

The Miss American Organization had no additional statement beyond the one they issued last Friday, when reached by TheWrap about Cameron-Jackson’s interview.