Thelma Elizabeth Porter Parros was the first black woman in America to win a beauty pageant, she was named “Miss Subway” in New York City. Porter was born on June 29, 1928, to Sarah and Thomas Porter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Eastern District High School in New York, she went on to attend Brooklyn College where she pursued an Associates Degree in Psychology.
In 1941, she was one of the first members of a ladies social group, The Flamingos. In 1948, Parros served as the President of the NAACP Youth Council in New York City. Parros was noted for her impeccable public speaking skills and dramatic recitations. Her beauty, charm, and poise seemed to always captivate the attention of those in her presence. While still in high school, she was voted Miss Personality Plus, Miss Victory, and Miss Cover Girl.
At the age of 19, Porter integrated the pageant world becoming the first black woman to win the title “Miss Subway” in New York City. She paved the way for other minority women to compete and reign in beauty pageants nationwide. Porter appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine in 1949, and in Jet Magazine in 1952. She later married Leo Parros and the couple had four children: Michael, Rick, Sara, and Peter (actor).