This year’s Miss Indy Juneteenth, Teresa Clay, will use her new recognition to continue helping people learn how to thrive after trauma.
Clay, who won three of the four categories in the Indy Juneteenth competition, entered the foster care system at 13 and said becoming a beacon of light has been her dream.
Clay answered some questions from the Recorder about being crowned Miss Indy Juneteenth and her work in the community.
Indianapolis Recorder: What does it mean to you to be crowned Miss Indy Juneteenth?
Teresa Clay: To be crowned Miss Indy Juneteenth 2022 is such an honor. As a teen I left home at 13 and entered foster care. To become a beacon of light after trauma was my dream, and it’s what Juneteenth signifies. I want people to know you can not only survive but you can thrive after trauma. As long as you are breathing, you can fight every day for a healthier, happier life.
IR: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born? What school did you go to? What do you like to do for fun?
TC: I’m originally from St. Louis. Indianapolis has been my home for a while now. Moving to Indy has been wonderful for my son and me.
We have a wonderful school and family support system that has allowed us to flourish. I’ve been an optician for over 20 years now. During the COVID shutdown I was able to help medical staff with glasses repairs when the opticals closed. They would leave broken glasses in my mailbox with their address. I’d disinfect, repair and return them to their mailbox. They were in the trenches, and it meant a lot to me to be able to help.
I’m also the founder of two groups. BLASE: Black Events Indy page supports and promotes Black life, sports and events in Indianapolis, and The Cocoa Chanels page encourages learning, uplifting and sharing opportunities with other successful African American women.
IR: What kinds of things do you like to do in the community?
TC: From Habitat for Humanity to the Order of the Eastern Stars, I’ve been entrenched in Indy life for years. Most recently I’ve made it my mission through the BLASE Facebook page to help support Black events by giving away tickets to events we may not always have an opportunity to attend. For example, I bought a 10-person table at the Center for Leadership Development Gala so 10 entrepreneurs could be present. But when I’m not fulfilling my role as Miss Indy Juneteenth, I’m traveling, enjoying my son Mason play baseball or reading a great book.
IR: As Juneteenth becomes more and more commercialized, what do you hope people still remember about what this day means?
TC: I’m hopeful that the renewed energy and love toward Juneteenth is here to stay. Yes, there are times when businesses have gotten it wrong. I see those as teaching moments. Ultimately, it’s our story and we are responsible to make sure it is honored and taught correctly. We owe it to everyone to make sure they know about Ms. Opal Lee and her dedication to helping make Juneteenth a federal holiday. We stand on the shoulders of giants. I plan on making that a priority during my reign this year.
Businesses that are interested in learning more about Juneteenth and its significance should send an inquiry to indyjuneteenth.com. We have an amazing class taught by our founder, James Webb, that will help businesses avoid cultural missteps. Taking time to learn about someone’s culture and celebrating with them is community love.
I look forward to meeting everyone at the parade and festival on June 18. If you would like me to speak at your event, please contact me at [email protected] Thank you to Indy Juneteenth and the Recorder.